Ottorino Respighi is known to audiences almost exclusively for his brilliant tone poems, but he devoted a significant amount of energy to writing for the voice. This collection of his vocal music, performed by soprano Gemma Bertagnolli, includes songs, song cycles, opera excerpts, and his inventive realizations of Baroque songs. The music reveals Respighi to be a composer with an exceptional gift for writing gratefully for the voice. These songs also demonstrate his originality and the variety of styles in which he was fluent. In the cycle Deità Silvani, written in 1917, he writes with a harmonic freedom that belies his reputation as a musical conservative. His gift for creating soaring, passionately lyrical melodies is evident in almost all of these selections. Soprano Gemma Bertagnolli has a large, sumptuous voice that she deploys with warm expressiveness. She is completely solid over her wide range and can bring full weight to the lowest register as effectively as she can serenely float at the top. Her ability to subtly color her voice allows her to give these varied songs the maximum interpretive diversity. Mirko Guadagnini brings a hefty and heroic tenor to one of the songs from the cycle, Cinque Canti all'antica. Pianist Aldo Orvieto provides a colorful and responsive accompaniment. The sound is clean and clear, but a little on the loud side, so the volume may need some adjustment.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Eddins
|Deità silvane, song cycle for soprano & piano, P. 107|
|Rispetti toscani, songs (4) for soprano & piano, P. 103|
|Arrangement: "Antiche cantate d'amore", P. 98|
|Canti all'antica, songs (5) for mezzo-soprano & piano, P. 71|