Author Topic: Ottorino Respighi(1879-1936)  (Read 27260 times)

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Offline Dundonnell

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Ottorino Respighi(1879-1936)
« on: May 12, 2009, 03:05:50 AM »
It seems a little quiet in The Composers Forum these days so I thought that I would start a thread on a somewhat more mainstream composer than the rather obscure figures I usually comment on ;D

(Just in case you are interested...there are quite a few famous composers who don't yet have threads of their own-Balakirev, Bernstein, Busoni. Dohnanyi, Falla, Kabalevsky, Mendelssohn, Orff, Puccini, Weber, Weill for example!)

I love the richness of Respighi's music, the superb mastery of orchestral colour, the sweeping bravura and confidence of his writing, that combination of late romantic excess and his beautiful recreation of the Italian baroque.

Obviously(and having just returned from a visit to Rome these pieces have a special resonance for me) the 'Roman trilogy' of 'The Fountains of Rome', 'The Pines of Rome' and (the lesser) 'Feste Romane' are tremendous favourites. I first got to know the first two of these in an ancient Ace of Clubs LP with Fernando Previtali and Alberto Erede but I have more modern accounts conducted by Charles Munch, Enrique Batiz and Riccardo Muti.

But there are so many luscious Respighi scores! The delightful Suite "The Birds", the Ancient Airs and Dances, the splendid 'Vetrate di chiesa', the lovely 'Three Botticelli Pictures' and the dramatic 'Brazilian Impressions'.

Chandos has recorded a lot of Respighi's less well known orchestral scores and anyone attuned to Respighi's wavelength but not familiar with works like the Straussian Sinfonia Drammatica of 1913-14, the quite magnificent Metamorphoseon of 1930, or the colourful series of concertos(many of them based on Gregorian plainchant) like the 'Concerto gregoriano' for violin or the 'Concerto in modo misolidio for piano' is in for a real treat!

There are operas and a deal of extremely beautiful choral and vocal music too :)

It is a tragedy that Respighi died at the relatively early age of 56. The late 'Metamorphoseon' suggests that his style had the potential to develop further-as did those of his contemporaries Casella and Malipiero. Respighi's music is by far the most accessible and colourful of those composers of the 'Generazione dell'ottanta' and his relative fame compared to his contemporaries reflects that but the range of his music is still not heard often enough in the concert hall today.

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Ottorino Respighi(1879-1936)
« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2009, 04:23:02 AM »
I'm a fan too - especially of Church Windows, which is a bit like a Hollywood biblical epic score of a later period. I also like the Botticelli Pictures and the lovely Concerto Gregoriano, which I wrongly thought must be by someone like Finzi when I first heard it on the radio. Also, there is some very fine chamber music.  I have more than once been caprivated by an unknown piece of music on the radio, only to find out that it was by Respighi. Yes, Metamorphoseon is one of his greatest works - and largely unknown.

The CD with the Concerto in modo misolidio on Naxos is a good place to start in my view. The lovely main theme, once heard, cannot be forgotten.
« Last Edit: May 12, 2009, 04:25:59 AM by vandermolen »
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Ottorino Respighi(1879-1936)
« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2009, 10:32:07 AM »
I'm a fan too - especially of Church Windows, which is a bit like a Hollywood biblical epic score of a later period. I also like the Botticelli Pictures and the lovely Concerto Gregoriano, which I wrongly thought must be by someone like Finzi when I first heard it on the radio. Also, there is some very fine chamber music.  I have more than once been caprivated by an unknown piece of music on the radio, only to find out that it was by Respighi. Yes, Metamorphoseon is one of his greatest works - and largely unknown.

The CD with the Concerto in modo misolidio on Naxos is a good place to start in my view. The lovely main theme, once heard, cannot be forgotten.

On the subject of the Respighi concertante works-you are right, Jeffrey, the Naxos versions are worth looking at too.

For the piano works-
The early and immature Piano concerto in A minor(1902) is coupled on Chandos CHAN 9285 with the 1925 Concerto in modo misolidio(Geoffrey Tozer/Sir Edward Downes) but the better bet may be to buy the better recorded and better played two Naxos discs: 8.553207 which has the Piano Concerto, the Fantasia Slava(1903) and the very fine 1928 Toccata for Piano and Orchestra, and 8.553366 which has the Concerto in modo misolidio(also Konstantin Scherbakov/Howard Griffiths) coupled with the engaging Concerto a cinque of 1933 for oboe, trumpet, piano, viola d'amore, double-bass and strings.
Tozer makes a rather more impressive job of the Toccata-which may just be the best of Respighi's piano concertante works- and the Fantasia Slava on Chandos CHAN 9311.

For violin-
The Chandos coupling(CHAN 9232) of the 1921 Concerto gregoriano and the Poeme autunnale of 1926 played by Lydia Mordkovitch is superb and you also get the colourful Ballata delle Gnomidi. Marco Polo/Naxos have recorded these works but Mordkovitch is to be preferred. Respighi also wrote an early Concerto all'Antica for violin which has been recorded but which I have not(yet!) heard.

There are also the Suite in G major for organ and strings(1905) and the short Adagio con variazione for cello and orchestra(1920).

« Last Edit: May 12, 2009, 10:34:16 AM by Dundonnell »

snyprrr

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Re: Ottorino Respighi(1879-1936)
« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2009, 11:12:19 PM »
I believe I too have been surprised by Respighi on the radio. He does make a good radio friendly composer.

I was disappointed with his SQ No.2 "Dorian". I guess I was expecting fourths and fifths and a very heavy gothic sound, but it comes off light as air, and I found it's profile lacking. Not what you expect from such an opulent composer.

His SQ No.1, however, is in the best tradition of big ambitious arrogant student works that were endemic in Respighi's generation. Much preferred.

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Ottorino Respighi(1879-1936)
« Reply #4 on: May 13, 2009, 01:53:22 AM »
Researching Respighi's current discography for this thread has been expensive ;D I have now ordered three cds containing pieces I did not previously have-the early Cantata "Christus", the Cantata "Aretusa" for mezzo-sopano and orchestra, "La Sensitiva" for mezzo-soprano and orchestra, and the Concerto dell'antica for violin and orchestra.

(Given the number of members who I know like Respighi's music I am surprised that so few have replied yet!)

Offline Christo

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Re: Ottorino Respighi(1879-1936)
« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2009, 02:51:32 AM »
(Given the number of members who I know like Respighi's music I am surprised that so few have replied yet!)

Ok then, here is me (running away quickly; work to do!)  ;)
… music is not only an 'entertainment’, nor a mere luxury, but a necessity of the spiritual if not of the physical life, an opening of those magic casements through which we can catch a glimpse of that country where ultimate reality will be found.    RVW, 1948

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Ottorino Respighi(1879-1936)
« Reply #6 on: May 13, 2009, 07:21:34 AM »
Ok then, here is me (running away quickly; work to do!)  ;)

That's no excuse ;D

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Ottorino Respighi(1879-1936)
« Reply #7 on: May 13, 2009, 10:07:43 AM »
Researching Respighi's current discography for this thread has been expensive ;D I have now ordered three cds containing pieces I did not previously have-the early Cantata "Christus", the Cantata "Aretusa" for mezzo-sopano and orchestra, "La Sensitiva" for mezzo-soprano and orchestra, and the Concerto dell'antica for violin and orchestra.

(Given the number of members who I know like Respighi's music I am surprised that so few have replied yet!)

Those are very fine works.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline J.Z. Herrenberg

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Re: Ottorino Respighi(1879-1936)
« Reply #8 on: May 13, 2009, 12:47:49 PM »
I like Respighi, too. The usual suspects, of course (the Roman trilogy), but I also love the Antiche danze ed arie. Considering I like the sound his music makes, I admit it's strange I haven't explored Respighi in more depth yet. But that might change, thanks to this excellent thread! (another Dundonnell classic  ;) )
Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything. -- Plato

Offline drogulus

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Re: Ottorino Respighi(1879-1936)
« Reply #9 on: May 13, 2009, 03:54:14 PM »

     Reference Recordings has some fine Respighi including this CD of Church Windows with Keith Clark and the Pacific Symphony.

     

     And this Oue/Minnesota O. recording has spectacular sound. My Ormandy and Stokowski recordings of The Pines of Rome both become distorted on peaks. That's not a problem here.

     
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Offline jowcol

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Re: Ottorino Respighi(1879-1936)
« Reply #10 on: May 14, 2009, 08:49:04 AM »
My knowledge doesnt' go much beyond the Roman Trilogy and Church Windows.  The last movement of Church Windows is truly amazing-- I love the raw power of the organ there.

And it's hard not to love the Appian Way from the Pines of Rome.  That is one that I always played for people who "didn't like classical music".

Rather strange tangent-- but  the movie Fantasia 2000 exceeded my expectations, even though the concept of flying whales was a bit odd for the Pines of Rome.  I only wish they used the Catacombs movement, and left out the third, if they needed to leave something out.

Most of his baroque flavored stuff didn't move me-- but maybe my expectations were clouding my ears.
"If it sounds good, it is good."
Duke Ellington

karlhenning

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Re: Ottorino Respighi(1879-1936)
« Reply #11 on: May 14, 2009, 08:51:44 AM »
. . . even though the concept of flying whales was a bit odd for the Pines of Rome.

Well, they had to outdo the dinosaurs in Le sacre from the original, for irrelevance to the music  8)

Offline Benji

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Re: Ottorino Respighi(1879-1936)
« Reply #12 on: November 19, 2009, 04:00:43 PM »
What, one page of discussion for Respighi and nothing since May? That should be a criminal offence. Naughty posters, bad bad!

So, I am listening to the San Francisco Symphony with Edo de Waart in Pini di Roma. I wonder, does anyone have the score? I think I can hear organ pedal notes in the Catacombes movement. Is that right? And listening to the Pines of the Janiculum I think I hear more pedal notes. No missing the organ in the final movement of course.  ;D

This is music I can just become utterly lost in. Insanely beautiful, and spectacularly vivid.

Just re: this recording in particular - I find it a little too understated in the quieter movements but the finale is rather good. The Naxos disc with the Royal Phil and Enrique Batiz is my cherished reference recording (and one of the very first discs I bought).

Offline Catison

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Re: Ottorino Respighi(1879-1936)
« Reply #13 on: November 19, 2009, 05:35:13 PM »
Just heard a brass band do a version of the Appian Way.  That was powerful!
-Brett

Offline Carolus

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Re: Ottorino Respighi(1879-1936)
« Reply #14 on: November 19, 2009, 05:43:47 PM »
Try to find his violin sonata by Heifetz with Emmanuel Bay. Fantastic.

Offline offbeat

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Re: Ottorino Respighi(1879-1936)
« Reply #15 on: November 20, 2009, 08:52:19 AM »
Respighi's Ancient Airs and Dances is a constant joy for me
i know its based on composers in the past but his take on it
always puts me in good mood  :)

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Ottorino Respighi(1879-1936)
« Reply #16 on: September 25, 2010, 07:38:46 PM »
Thought I would bump this thread back towards the top as I LOVE Respighi. He's one of my favorites and one that I have explored quite deeply. I would say of the Roman Trilogy that Pines of Rome is by far my favorite. Church Windows holds a special place in my heart. It's a very appealing work: full of big tunes, lush orchestration, and invigorating rhythms.
 
I also love all the Chandos recordings with Sir Edward Downes conducting, especially the disc with Concerto Gregoriano, Poema Autunnale, etc. with Lydia Mordkovitch. Beautiful recording.
 
My favorite Roman Trilogy is Riccardo Muti/Philadelphia Orchestra. My favorite Church Windows is Geoffrey Simon/Philharmonia.
“Works of art make rules; rules do not make works of art.” - Claude Debussy

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Ottorino Respighi(1879-1936)
« Reply #17 on: September 25, 2010, 10:35:49 PM »
Thought I would bump this thread back towards the top as I LOVE Respighi. He's one of my favorites and one that I have explored quite deeply. I would say of the Roman Trilogy that Pines of Rome is by far my favorite. Church Windows holds a special place in my heart. It's a very appealing work: full of big tunes, lush orchestration, and invigorating rhythms.
 
I also love all the Chandos recordings with Sir Edward Downes conducting, especially the disc with Concerto Gregoriano, Poema Autunnale, etc. with Lydia Mordkovitch. Beautiful recording.
 
My favorite Roman Trilogy is Riccardo Muti/Philadelphia Orchestra. My favorite Church Windows is Geoffrey Simon/Philharmonia.

I think that Geoffrey Simon is underrated as a conductor, his 'Sacred Service' by Bloch is my favourite version (out of 6  :o). The 'Poem Autumnal' by Respighi is another favourite of mine.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Ottorino Respighi(1879-1936)
« Reply #18 on: September 26, 2010, 06:01:36 AM »
I think that Geoffrey Simon is underrated as a conductor, his 'Sacred Service' by Bloch is my favourite version (out of 6  :o ). The 'Poem Autumnal' by Respighi is another favourite of mine.

Simon's recording of Bloch's Sacred Service is very beautiful indeed. I, too, think Simon is an underrated conductor.
 
By the way, like the Myaskovsky avatar.  8)
“Works of art make rules; rules do not make works of art.” - Claude Debussy

Offline drogulus

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Re: Ottorino Respighi(1879-1936)
« Reply #19 on: September 26, 2010, 06:21:34 AM »
     The Autumn Poem on the RR Church Windows disc reminds me of The Lark Ascending. It's a terrific disc to learn about Respighi minus pines & fountains. This pic was supposed to be in an earlier post but vanished somehow.

     

     
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