Antonio Pappano

Respighi: Fontane di Roma; Pini di Roma; Il Tramonto; Feste Romane

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Fans of Italian composer Ottorino Respighi's Roman Trilogy -- The Fountains of Rome, The Pines of Rome, and Roman Festival may already have their favorite recordings of these well-known orchestral showpieces. And while they may prefer the strongly colored and robustly rhythmic performances by Toscanini, the conductor who gave the works their premiere, or the brilliantly colored and powerful muscled performances by Muti, the conductor most associated with the music these days, there are still two good reasons to try this 2007 EMI recording. First: with the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia Rome led by the enthusiastic Antonio Pappano, at last the orchestra and the conductor are Italian. And though some could rightly say that the orchestra of the Italian capital is not nearly as virtuosic as the orchestras of the German, Austrian, or London capitals, no one could deny the propulsive energy and bone-deep understanding they bring to the music. Second: with English mezzo-soprano Christine Rice's performance of the relatively rarely recorded symphonic song Il tramonto, this disc has a passionate and wholly compelling performance of an unusual and invaluable work as a coupling. Recorded in the Sala Santa Cecilia in Rome by producer David Groves, the sound here is big, full, and vivid if a little lacking in cohesion in climaxes.

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