Margherita Bassani / Damian Iorio

Ildebrando Pizzetti: Symphony in A; Harp Concerto

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AllMusic Review by James Manheim

The Symphony in A (it is not really A major or A minor) of Ildebrando Pizzetti was composed in 1940 for the 2,600th anniversary of imperial Japan. Richard Strauss (Japanese Festival Music) and Benjamin Britten (Sinfonia da Requiem) wrote pieces for the same occasion, and it was perhaps symptomatic of the way things were going that Strauss' and Pizzetti's works were accepted but Britten's was not. Indeed, Pizzetti's symphony is unsettled in tone, with a revival of the old term "concitato" ("agitated") in the tempo indications for both of the outer movements. The work is unlike anything else from the period; Pizzetti was a conservative, not even a neoclassicist, but his Romantic language somehow seemed stressed when bumping up against current events. Sample one of those outer movements to check your own reaction, which may well be personal. There's less uncertainty over the effect of the Harp Concerto in E flat major, completed in 1960; it is a compelling virtuoso work for the instrument that solves the difficult problem of harp/orchestra balance in intriguing ways. Credit is of course due to harpist Margherita Bassani, conductor Damian Iorio, the Orchestra Sinfonia Nazionale della Rai, and the Naxos/Rai engineering team, working in the friendly Auditorium Rai Arturo Toscanini in Turin. Recommended for those interested in 20th century Italian music.

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