Ottorino Respighi

Feste romane (Roman Festivals), symphonic poem, P. 157

    Description by Michael Rodman

    As angular, dissonant, and jazz-steeped breezes swept through the musical climate of Europe following World War I, Ottorino Respighi confidently braced himself against the whipping storm with a salvo of his own. He wrote in 1932:

    "We take the stand against this art which cannot have and does not possess any human content and tends to be only a mechanical experiment and a cerebral conundrum. In the musical world today there reigns the biblical babel. For 20 years the most divese and disparate trends have been consolidated in an uninterrupted revolutionary chaos.... A logical connection must bind the past with the future, and the romanticism of yesterday must become the romanticism of tomorrow."

    Respighi's steadfast sensibilities included most notably a particular sense of orchestral gigantism and real-as-life color, features abundantly on display in the Feste Romane (1928). This work, the last in the composer's trilogy of "Roman" tone poems (the previous two having celebrated the city's fountains and ancient sites) calls for, in addition to a standard configuration of instruments, a number of others intended to evoke those that might have been heard in earlier times: an organ, a mandolin, two tavolette (a sort of drum), and three buccine (a trumpet-like military instrument). The composer prefaced each movement with an elaborate written description to provide a sort of guided tour:

    I. Circenses (The Circus Maximus). A threatening sky hangs of the Massimo Circus, but it is the people's holiday: "Ave Nero!" The iron doors are unlocked, the strains of a religious song and the howling of wild beasts float on the air. The crowd rises in agitation: unperturbed, the song of the martyrs develops, conquers, and is lost in the tumult.

    II. Il Giubileo (The Jubilee). The pilgrims trail along the highway, praying. There finally appears from the summit of Monte Mario, to ardent eyes and gasping souls, the holy city: "Rome! Rome!" A hymn of praise bursts forth, the churches ring out their reply.

    III. L'Ottobrata (The October Festival). The October festival in Roman Castelli covered with vines: hunting echoes, tinkling of bells, songs of love. Then in tender evenfall arises a romantic serenade.

    IV. La Befana (The Epiphany). The night before Epiphany in the Piazza Navone: a characteristic rhythm of trumpets dominates the frantic clamor: above the swelling noise float, from time to time, rustic motives, saltarello cadenzas, the strains of a barrel-organ of a booth and the appeal of the proclaimer, the harsh song of the intoxicated and the lively stornello in which is expressed the popular feelings. "Lasstece pass! Semo Romani!" -- "We are Romans! Let us pass!"

    Parts/Movements

    1. Circenses [Circuses]
    2. Il giubileo [The Jubilee]
    3. L'ottobrata [The October Festival]
    4. La Befana [The Epiphany]

    Appears On

    Year Title / Performer Label / Catalog # AllMusic Rating
    2020
    Chandos
    CHSA 5261
    2019
    Naxos
    8574013
    2017
    RCA Red Seal
    88985376042
    2017
    Deutsche Grammophon
    4797477
    2017
    Deutsche Grammophon
    2017
    Decca / Deutsche Grammophon
    4798196
    2016
    Supraphon
    SU 41992
    2015
    Brilliant Classics
    94900
    2014
    Various Artists
    Sony Classical
    88843047122
    2012
    Altissimo
    ALT 63132
    2012
    Brilliant Classics
    94392
    2011
    Onyx
    ONYX 4083
    2011
    EMI Classics / Warner Classics
    5099909798823
    2011
    Warner Classics
    2010
    Opus KURA
    7052
    2010
    Denon Records
    2010
    BIS
    1720
    2010
    Decca
    2010
    Klavier Records
    11182
    2010
    Exton
    00217
    2010
    Apex
    2010
    Dorian
    92109
    2009
    Denon Records
    2009
    Denon Records
    00795041956460
    2009
    EMI Classics
    2009
    EMI Classics / Warner Classics
    5099923767
    2009
    Denon Records
    2009
    Denon Records
    2008
    Apex
    4696152
    2008
    Various Artists
    Decca
    443759
    2008
    Sony Classical Essential Classics
    727987
    2007
    EMI Classics / Warner Classics
    0946394429
    2007
    Exton
    217
    2006
    RCA
    702331
    2006
    Brilliant
    7565
    2004
    Rca Red Seal
    82876608692
    2004
    Vanguard
    ATMCD1227
    2003
    IRIS
    6406/07
    2002
    Cascavelle
    6150
    2002
    Sony Music
    48267
    2002
    Mark Custom Recording
    4363
    2002
    Chandos
    10035
    2001
    Various Artists
    Deutsche Grammophon
    469 181-2GP2
    2001
    Delos
    3287
    2001
    Urania
    189
    2000
    T-Rax
    29
    2000
    Decca
    466993
    1999
    Rene Gailly
    87157
    1999
    Pearl
    0054
    1998
    Sony Classical
    SMK-60174
    1997
    EMI Music Distribution
    55600
    1997
    Conifer
    75605 51292-2
    1996
    Doyen
    DOYCD 045
    1995
    Dorian
    90182
    1995
    Vanguard
    EVC9018
    1994
    Telarc Distribution
    80356
    1994
    BMG
    62675
    1994
    Naxos
    550539
    1993
    Deutsche Grammophon
    437534
    1993
    Naxos
    550539
    1992
    Chandos
    8989
    1992
    SBK Records
    48267
    1991
    RCA
    60311
    1991
    Chesky Records
    18
    1990
    EMI Music Distribution
    47316
    1988
    Delos
    3070
    1987
    Delos
    3070
    1987
    Deutsche Grammophon
    415846
    1984
    Decca
    1983
    London
    410145
    RCA
    72374
    RCA
    60328
    RFCM Symphony Orchestra
    RCA Silver Seal
    60486
    Philips
    432133
    Warner Music
    Bescol
    521
    Alfa
    1010
    Teldec
    18970
    Teldec
    9031762632
    RCA
    60262