Francesco La Vecchia / Orchestra Sinfonica di Roma

Respighi: Complete Orchestral Music, Vol. 1

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This album is the first in a series covering all of Ottorino Respighi's orchestral works, but it includes several of the really famous ones and could easily make a stand-alone purchase. An interesting feature of Respighi's output viewed as a whole is that several stylistic strands coexisted in his music over the years. Respighi was interested in neo-classicism, was actually ahead of the curve for it, but the big tone poems depicting Roman scenes show little trace of that interest. Gli uccelli (The Birds), on the other hand, dating from 1927 (after all the Roman tone poems), is a pure neo-classic, actually neo-Baroque work, with each movement taking off from a Baroque work and adorning it in a way that suggests what would happen if Busoni had decided to become an orchestral composer. The interest in the program here is that Gli uccelli is joined on disc two by two early works, the Suite for strings and Suite in G major for strings and organ, that show the origins of this style in Respighi's output. The tone poems themselves are presented out of chronological order, but the brash and garish Feste Romane (Roman Festivals), with outer movements that bring to mind the films of Federico Fellini, certainly makes a compelling opener. The Orchestra Sinfonica di Roma under Francesco La Vecchia certainly plays very well here, with the brasses fully on top of the numerous passages in which they are mercilessly exposed. La Vecchia's readings are straightforward, and some of the warhorse recordings of the past may have finer touches in them. But at a budget price this is a basic Respighi collection that makes sense for newcomer buyers.

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Gli Uccelli: Suite for chamber orchestra after Baroque keyboard works
1 3:05
2 5:26
3 3:13
4 4:26
5 5:24
Suite for Strings
6 9:15
7 6:02
8 3:04
9 5:56
10 2:52
11 4:07
Suite in G for strings and organ
12 4:27
13 5:54
14 6:36
15 6:26
blue highlight denotes track pick