This 1987 release combined a pair of gorgeous works not much heard outside of Italy, and it sounds great more than two decades later. The two composers are linked by the fact that Giuseppe Martucci was Respighi's teacher; both composers drew on progressive German music of Wagner and beyond (in Martucci's La Canzone dei Ricordi, or The Song of Memories, traces of Brahms are also audible) while writing music still suffused by Italian melody. The neglect of Martucci's orchestral song cycle is a little hard to understand; perhaps it is due to the fact that when listeners think of Italian music of the late nineteenth century, nobody thinks of orchestral song cycles. The fact that Toscanini was roughed up in 1931 (the year is given wrongly in the otherwise informative notes as 1932) after conducting an all-Martucci concert (he refused to begin the proceedings with the Fascist Anthem) ought to be a clue that the music is worth investigating. The Notturno, Op. 70/1, that serves as an entr'acte here would make a gorgeous opener for any symphonic concert. Both vocal works are superbly rendered by soprano Carol Madalin; she's especially effective as she delivers a combination of power and agility in Respighi's utterly rhapsodic Il Tramonto (The Sunset), a work that combines the idiom of the composer's nearly contemporaneous tone poems with operatic display. It's a powerful conclusion to the program, and the whole thing is a real pleasure.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|La Canzone dei Ricordi (The Song of Remembrance)|