O CD “Trilogia Romana” que gravei com a OSESP foi eleito o CD do mês pela Music Web International. É bom ver nosso trabalho reconhecido.
Publico no original, para quem se interessar:
RECORDING OF THE MONTH
Respighi: Roman Trilogy
Ottorino RESPIGHI (1879-1936)
Fontane di Roma (1916) [16:36]
Pini di Roma (1924) [21:42]
Feste Romane (1929) [24:27]
São Paolo Symphony Orchestra/John Neschling
rec. February 2008, Sala São Paolo, Brazil
I was impressed a while ago by the São Paolo Symphony Orchestra in their Across the Pyrenees recording with Sharon Bezaly. Having already heard good things about this ‘Roman Trilogy’ disc, I was confident of not having to write bad words about it, even in a market which is filled with a wealth of alternatives for these popular works.
Part of the thrill with this recording is having the full colourful splendour of Respighi’s scores in SACD sound. With superb playing and Bis’s reliably wonderful engineering you can expect to be blown out of your seat at numerous moments. Fans of films scores of the epic variety can find the wellspring of vast swathes of cinematic music at source with this collection, almost every effect in these scores having been ‘nicked’ at one time or another. With a sumptuous sound-spectacle assured, we can settle down and see if the performances stand up to this almost larger-than-life scrutiny.
Beginning with the Fontane di Roma, you are immediately impressed with the quality of the solo playing in the winds, each little touch from the peripheral instruments, percussion, harp – those little horn-calls and the like, beautifully present and accurately placed in terms of balance and perspective. Powerful horns and a sense of infinite depths of sound generate theatrical colour and light. The second section, The Triton Fountain, is followed by a Strauss ‘Alpine Symphony’ in miniature with the Trevi Fountain, magnificent organ and all. Succulent strings and sparkling orchestration in the Medici Fountain finish off this masterful and, to my ears as good as flawless rendition.
The Pines of Rome opens with a rowdy scene of playful children, dizzying us with energetic games and noise. Neschling and his band pull out all the stops, so that the plunge into the catacombs is a shock of gloom – maximum contrast, and very effective too. Restraint suffuses the solo instruments as they rise above the strings, expressive but movingly respectful. The climax which rises from those depths is truly, hair-raisingly massive. The Pine-Trees of the Janiculum is one of my favourite orchestral moments, and I can remember being fascinated by those parallel harmonies and poly-tonal moments as well as that recorded birdsong from childhood. The warm expressiveness of the strings is gorgeous here, and the clarinet and other solos can’t fail with such a marvellous carpet on which to walk. The nightingale we get here is a bit of a busy fellow and part of something of an avian crowd, but the effect is nice enough if perhaps lacking that last ounce of Max Ernst surrealist atmosphere. The sense of the ‘unending footsteps’ on the Appian Way is palpable in this recording, the low piano notes providing a rich percussive thrum to the rhythmic drive of the movement. Oh yes, the Romans are coming, you can be sure of that, and in this recording you’ll not only be overawed by their huge numbers and fantastic sense of discipline, but will also be blinded by the sunlight gleaming from freshly polished armour and weapons. This is unstoppable ceremonial and actual power embodied in sound, and only wonderfully inspiring if you happen to be on the right side.
John Neschling’s performance of this ‘Roman Trilogy’ has to compete with a fairly recent EMI recording conducted by Antonio Pappano, which also manages to offer the less frequently heard Il tramonto. This was given Recording of the Month status by Tim Perry, but has been less well received in some quarters. My own reference is the famous 1958/61 Philadelphia Orchestra recording with Eugene Ormandy, available on Sony Essential Classics. This still sounds remarkably good for its age, and there is no doubting Ormandy’s passionate response to Respighi’s music. There are some wonderfully atmospheric moments in this recording which have become part of my aural DNA, as I am sure they have for many other people, but there is no doubting the São Paolo’s qualities in terms of technical proficiency – beating the vintage recording in terms of intonation if nothing else.
Digital SACD recording is also the major benefit, but the South American sense of swing in vital moments of the Feste romane creates a sense of Mediterranean joy and sunlit abandon which even Ormandy couldn’t manage. I was never quite so keen on this piece, but have to admit to having been entirely converted with this new recording. Neschling gets every ounce of oomph out of Respighi’s over-the-top score and orchestration, and finds and highlights themes, lets trombones rip through their glissandi, and pitches the melodramatic impact of that killer first movement exactly right. Having had the fear of imminent demise put into us, the chilling atmosphere of trudging pilgrims makes us awestruck with religious piety. There is a transformation into that ‘hymn of praise’ which you can almost physically sense turning the corner into “the holy city, Rome! Rome!” At last the fun can start, and The October Festival allows the São Paolo players to start showing us how they can get into that groove of sleazy sumptuousness which is irresistibly southern. The mandolin solo kicks in at 4:17: another unforgettable master-stroke from Respighi the brilliant orchestrator, but let’s also not forget the stunning violin solos from orchestral leader Cláudio Cruz. The final Epiphany is the best I’ve heard either on record or in the concert hall, and if it doesn’t have you dancing in one way or another then I fear a medical check-up may be required. The São Paolo orchestra manages both energetic virtuosity and magnificent wit, and this movement is quite literally a blast.
So, as you may have gathered, I am quite enthusiastic about this recording of Respighi’s ‘Roman Trilogy’. As far as I’m concerned it has everything, and in having everything can stand against all comers in its field. Bravo!