Listeners may be forgiven for wondering whether the world needed another recording of Ottorino Respighi's three famous tone poems celebrating the Eternal City: Feste romane (Roman Festivals), Fontane di Roma (Fountains of Rome), and perhaps most famous of all, Pini di Roma (Pines of Rome). But they should decidedly give a chance to this Naxos release featuring the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and American conductor JoAnn Falletta, who knows the ensemble well. For one thing, Falletta earned her stripes with a previous recording of three much less often heard Respighi tone poems that was critically acclaimed and gives her justification for having her say in the big three. More than that, however, there's a certain energy and excitement running all the way through this recording. The Buffalo Philharmonic has a noted brass section; yes, you might find better in Chicago or Berlin, but the climaxes here have real bite. You might find broader readings that work, but it's rare that you'll hear one that captures so much instrumental detail, even as Falletta keeps things moving at an above-average clip. You could sample anywhere and find small pleasures, but try the piano at the beginning of the third movement of Pini di Roma, the nocturnal "Pines on the Janiculum Hill." It gives a feel for how Falletta keeps the unusual coloristic palette of these tone poems in impressive balance. And you might find acoustically more impressive venues than Buffalo's International Style Kleinhans Hall, but not another ensemble who knows it so well and knows how to produce a satisfying effect. Highly recommended.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Feste romane ('Roman Festivals') , P. 157|
|Fontane di Roma ('Fountains of Rome') , P. 106|
|Pini di Roma (Pines of Rome), P. 141|