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!"


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

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    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 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 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 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