Author Topic: Rota's Roundtable  (Read 4372 times)

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Ken B

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Rota's Roundtable
« on: February 21, 2014, 09:20:01 PM »
The music of Nino Rota

An excellent composer, not just of film music, and (to be a bit provocative) a good example of one underrated because of the épater les bourgeois snobbishness of the institutional "avant garde."

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Rota's Roundtable
« Reply #1 on: February 21, 2014, 09:28:45 PM »
The music of Nino Rota

An excellent composer, not just of film music, and (to be a bit provocative) a good example of one underrated because of the épater les bourgeois snobbishness of the institutional "avant garde."

I've heard of this composer's name many times, but I've never heard a note of it. Does his serious concert music stand next to Bartok, Stravinsky, Ravel, Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Debussy, etc.? If yes, where do I sign up? :)
"Humility is society's greatest misconception."

Ken B

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Re: Rota's Roundtable
« Reply #2 on: February 21, 2014, 09:51:52 PM »
I've heard of this composer's name many times, but I've never heard a note of it. Does his serious concert music stand next to Bartok, Stravinsky, Ravel, Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Debussy, etc.? If yes, where do I sign up? :)

You tell me! I've just been exploring his concert music recently. Here are 3, flute quintet agrd 24, mature flute trio, cello concerto 1
Nonet
I particularly like the quintet and nonet.

http://m.youtube.com/results?q=rota%20quintet&sm=3

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=BOawgV97oLE

http://m.youtube.com/results?q=rota%20cello%20concerto&sm=3

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=5xnZDNDnQuM
« Last Edit: February 21, 2014, 10:05:14 PM by Ken B »

Offline amw

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Re: Rota's Roundtable
« Reply #3 on: February 21, 2014, 10:05:14 PM »
Nino Rota was apparently quite a remarkable child prodigy, conducting the premiere of his first oratorio at age 12 and that sort of thing. This and his film-scoring career have invited comparisons to Erich Wolfgang Korngold, and Korngold has tended to be favoured, since his music tends to be more lush and extrovert and late-romantic (and since he started working in Hollywood earlier than Rota, his style proved more influential, so it's what generations of movie-goers have grown up with). For that same reason I prefer Rota whose concert music up until the ~1940s occupies a somewhat reserved vein of post-Brahmsian late Romanticism and subsequently expands into an acid-sweet style reminiscent of (or anticipating, in some cases) the late works of Prokofiev. I have heard some chamber music and two piano concertos, but am vaguely curious about the (three?) symphonies.

I think his obscurity in the classical world is more because classical composers feel "betrayed" when one of their number makes it big in film. We were all struggling together in obscurity and social irrelevance, and then he goes and does The Godfather. Science fiction writers apparently felt the same way when books by Michael Crichton and Arthur C. Clarke got made into hit movies. How dare they sell our art form to the unwashed masses?!
« Last Edit: February 21, 2014, 10:09:30 PM by amw »

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Rota's Roundtable
« Reply #4 on: February 21, 2014, 10:11:50 PM »
You tell me! I've just been exploring his concert music recently. Here are 3, flute quintet agrd 24, mature flute trio, cello concerto 1
Nonet
I particularly like the quintet and nonet.

http://m.youtube.com/results?q=rota%20quintet&sm=3

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=BOawgV97oLE

http://m.youtube.com/results?q=rota%20cello%20concerto&sm=3

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=5xnZDNDnQuM

Sorry, man, but thanks for the links. I'm just too lazy to listen tonight (plus I had some other listening sessions going on). I'll need to give Rota and Rozsa, for that matter, some attention at some point.
« Last Edit: February 21, 2014, 10:14:11 PM by Mirror Image »
"Humility is society's greatest misconception."

Ken B

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Re: Rota's Roundtable
« Reply #5 on: February 21, 2014, 10:12:30 PM »
Nino Rota was apparently quite a remarkable child prodigy, conducting the premiere of his first oratorio at age 12 and that sort of thing. This and his film-scoring career have invited comparisons to Erich Wolfgang Korngold, and Korngold has tended to be favoured, since his music tends to be more lush and extrovert and late-romantic (and since he started working in Hollywood earlier than Rota, his style proved more influential, so it's what generations of movie-goers have grown up with). For that same reason I prefer Rota whose concert music up until the ~1940s occupies a somewhat reserved vein of post-Brahmsian late Romanticism and subsequently expands into an acid-sweet style reminiscent of the late works of Prokofiev. I have heard some chamber music and two piano concertos, but am vaguely curious about the (three?) symphonies.

I think his obscurity in the classical world is more because classical composers feel "betrayed" when one of their number makes it big in film. We were all struggling together in obscurity and social irrelevance, and then he goes and does The Godfather. Science fiction writers apparently felt the same way when books by Michael Crichton and Arthur C. Clarke got made into hit movies. How dare they sell our art form to the unwashed masses?!

Well I don't know much yet. I have 2cds of concert music. The nonet is definitely heading off in a Prokofiev direction.

I'm sure the betrayal as you put it is part of it, but that is just a part of the "serious music must not appeal" stuff pushed by Boulez et al which has been so destructive. Look at the Living Stereo and Mercury boxes. Thats the music orchestras were playing for paying customers. Vibrant, varied, lots of then very recent music. That openness was destroyed by the institutional avant garde.

Offline The new erato

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Re: Rota's Roundtable
« Reply #6 on: February 21, 2014, 10:42:46 PM »
I've heard of this composer's name many times, but I've never heard a note of it. Does his serious concert music stand next to Bartok, Stravinsky, Ravel, Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Debussy, etc.? If yes, where do I sign up? :)
He don't, but then of course few do. He wrote lots of accessible, attractive music with tons of Mediterranean charm which I like a lot, but I won't claim it as great. Rozsa wrote music with a stronger voice.
« Last Edit: February 21, 2014, 10:44:38 PM by The new erato »

Offline amw

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Re: Rota's Roundtable
« Reply #7 on: February 21, 2014, 10:46:48 PM »
I'm sure the betrayal as you put it is part of it, but that is just a part of the "serious music must not appeal" stuff pushed by Boulez et al which has been so destructive. Look at the Living Stereo and Mercury boxes. Thats the music orchestras were playing for paying customers. Vibrant, varied, lots of then very recent music. That openness was destroyed by the institutional avant garde.

Dunno about that—outside of France and a few new-music festivals Boulez's influence has not been that significant. Those sort of extremist ideas about music took hold in academia for a few years, but already by the early 60s most of Boulez's coterie had moved off in different directions and by the 70s a lot of them had quit writing avant-garde music altogether or were incorporating a much wider variety of techniques. Look at Henze, Pärt, Gorecki, Penderecki, Ligeti, Kagel, Rochberg, Del Tredici, Berio, Maxwell Davies, etc. Apart from Boulez's little fortress at IRCAM and a few university composition departments, the rest of the world moved on from that pretty quickly.

I don't disagree that there's a lot of elitism involved though—composers who don't pick a "side" and stick to it tend to be ignored or not taken seriously. Be avant-garde, or be a die-hard conservative, or join the counterculture, or whatever; but don't try to be more than one thing. Rota tried to do both film and concert, and as a result the film audience rates him lower than a dedicated film composer like Morricone, while the concert audience rates him lower than a dedicated concert composer like (say) Rachmaninov. Them's the breaks.

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Re: Rota's Roundtable
« Reply #8 on: February 21, 2014, 11:53:37 PM »
He don't, but then of course few do. He wrote lots of accessible, attractive music with tons of Mediterranean charm which I like a lot, but I won't claim it as great. Rozsa wrote music with a stronger voice.
Yeah John's list is a pretty august one. So much so that Prokofiev doesn't belong on it! But he wrote a lot of good music. So did Milhaud or Villa Lobos or Francaix or Ibert or D,Indy or ... well you get the idea. Olympus has a lot of foothills.

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Re: Rota's Roundtable
« Reply #9 on: February 22, 2014, 06:44:37 AM »
Yeah John's list is a pretty august one. So much so that Prokofiev doesn't belong on it! But he wrote a lot of good music. So did Milhaud or Villa Lobos or Francaix or Ibert or D,Indy or ... well you get the idea. Olympus has a lot of foothills.

Prokofiev was one of the major composers of the 20th Century. His ballet music alone puts in the top-tier ranking. Just saying. :)
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Ken B

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Re: Rota's Roundtable
« Reply #10 on: February 24, 2014, 01:22:49 PM »
Having listened to a fair bit of Rota now I think I can say his chamber music is the most interesting part of his output. This might be an effect of the film music, being 'Korngolded': in the orchestra he can fall back on lush color or clever orchestration sometimes in lieu of a new idea. But I've heard about 8 chamber works now and liked them all.  Best are the flute quintet and nonette. The trombone and harp concerti are good and deserve a hearing. I liked the sinfonias too; sinfonia is the right word, symphony wouldn't quite fit. I think the concert hall would benefit from more music like this, by lesser knowns, to fill out heavier recitals, rather than over familiar short pieces.

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Re: Re: Rota's Roundtable
« Reply #11 on: February 24, 2014, 01:47:38 PM »
... This might be an effect of the film music, being 'Korngolded'

I think the proper term may be Korngilt 8)
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Ken B

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Re: Re: Rota's Roundtable
« Reply #12 on: February 24, 2014, 02:13:54 PM »
I think the proper term may be Korngilt 8)

 :)

That's painting the lily Karl.

Ken B

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Re: Rota's Roundtable
« Reply #13 on: February 26, 2014, 08:27:05 PM »
An appealing piano fantasia from the blog of a pianist who plays less well known stuff and posts the recordings
http://musidescobrir.blogspot.com/2012/01/fantasia-in-sol-nino-rota_01.html


Offline Scion7

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Re: Rota's Roundtable
« Reply #14 on: February 04, 2017, 09:56:34 AM »
There are a couple of pieces that have risen above the rest of his generally quite-good serious output.

The Sonata for Flute and Harp from 1937 is one of the top compositions of its type and attracted praise from people such as Gianandrea Gavazzeni.

The Sonata for Viola and Piano in G from 1934 is considered one of the most successful pieces in the genre for the first half of the 20th century  The 3rd/last movement - the Allegro - should not be missed.

Many other critics and listeners have found the Violin Sonata from 1937 to be outstanding.  It's certainly lush and melodic, and the piano is not just a background instrument here.



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Offline Roy Bland

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Re: Rota's Roundtable
« Reply #15 on: March 03, 2021, 06:07:22 PM »
Adam and Eve Ballet.IMHO this is the only modern recording of this piece
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lm-Yof774vk

Offline Symphonic Addict

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Re: Rota's Roundtable
« Reply #16 on: March 29, 2021, 06:51:41 PM »
Only one page on this thread? What a crime!

Anyway. This whole CD has been a major discovery to me today. I had listened to the Violin Sonata long before, though. Most of the pieces here are so beautiful and lyrical, music to melt your heart. Rota had a special gift to write heartfelt compositions, and he definitely succeeded at it.

The content is as follows:

Two viola sonatas
Violin Sonata
Improvviso, "Un diavolo sentimentale", for violin and piano
Amanti senza amore: Improvviso, for violin and piano
Intermezzo for viola and piano

All the sonatas and the Intermezzo are truly special. The two Improvviso pieces have more energy and drive.

One of those CDs where all the pieces are worth listening.

Give us something else; give us something new; for Heaven's sake give us something bad, so long as we feel we are alive and active and not just passive admirers of tradition!

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Offline vandermolen

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Re: Rota's Roundtable
« Reply #17 on: March 30, 2021, 04:19:59 AM »
Only one page on this thread? What a crime!

Anyway. This whole CD has been a major discovery to me today. I had listened to the Violin Sonata long before, though. Most of the pieces here are so beautiful and lyrical, music to melt your heart. Rota had a special gift to write heartfelt compositions, and he definitely succeeded at it.

The content is as follows:

Two viola sonatas
Violin Sonata
Improvviso, "Un diavolo sentimentale", for violin and piano
Amanti senza amore: Improvviso, for violin and piano
Intermezzo for viola and piano

All the sonatas and the Intermezzo are truly special. The two Improvviso pieces have more energy and drive.

One of those CDs where all the pieces are worth listening.


I have the piano concertos but need to listen to more of his concert music.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

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Offline Symphonic Addict

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Re: Rota's Roundtable
« Reply #18 on: March 30, 2021, 04:22:14 PM »
I have the piano concertos but need to listen to more of his concert music.

He was a superb composer of concert music, maybe better than film music. Some of his concertos have touches of Prokofiev.
Give us something else; give us something new; for Heaven's sake give us something bad, so long as we feel we are alive and active and not just passive admirers of tradition!

Carl Nielsen

Offline kyjo

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Re: Rota's Roundtable
« Reply #19 on: March 31, 2021, 07:45:38 PM »
His Harp Concerto is simply idyllic and lovely beyond words. Perfect music for the coming of spring!
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