Ottorino Respighi

Gli uccelli (The Birds), suite for orchestra, P. 154

    Description by Roy Brewer

    Respighi's affection for and knowledge of early music is amply demonstrated in his three suites of Ancient Airs and Dances. Gli ucelli (1928) represents another expedition into the past, in which Respighi transforms five characteristic keyboard pieces from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries into a genial suite for orchestra.

    The orchestration of early keyboard music is a risky undertaking: The bright, uninflected timbre of an instrument like the harpsichord cannot adequately be conveyed by orchestral sonorities. Wisely, Respighi makes no attempt to do so. Instead, he uses the borrowed material to exploit the innate strengths of the orchestra, relying on melodic ingenuity, sparkling instrumental color, and swift contrasts of volume and tempo for interest. While none of these five movements conveys the brittle brilliance of the original pieces, each is witty, playful, and unpretentious.

    After a graceful Prelude based on a work by Bernardo Pasquini, the "uccelli" (birds) of the title make their appearances as follows: the dove (after Jacques de Gallot), the hen (after Jean-Phillippe Rameau), the nightingale (Anonymous, seventeenth century), and the cuckoo (after Pasquini). The Prelude's main theme returns in various guises throughout, and the work ends with a restatement of melodic fragments from earlier movements.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Preludio
    2. La colomba
    3. La gallina
    4. L'usignolo
    5. Il cuccu

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2016 Supraphon SU 42032
    2016 CPO 777233
    2015 ATMA Classique ACD 22732
    2015 Brilliant Classics 94900
    2015 Linn Records CKD 448
    2014 Naxos 8573168
    2013 Decca / Mercury 4785092
    2013 Deutsche Grammophon / Universal
    2012 Brilliant Classics 94392
    2011 Newton Classics 8802048
    2010 CPO 777295
    2010 Apex
    2010 EMI Classics
    2009 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099923767
    2009 EMI Classics
    2008 Apex 4696152
    2008 Decca 443759
    2007 Apex
    2005 Centaur Records 2696
    2005 EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics 7243586549
    2005 EMI Classics
    2005 Dux Records 489
    2004 Vanguard ATMCD1227
    2002 Telarc Distribution 80085
    2001 Deutsche Grammophon 469 181-2GP2
    2001 Unesco 70722
    2000 D Classics 70597
    1998 Sony Music Distribution 60311
    1997 Telarc Distribution 80443
    1996 EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics 7243569358
    1995 Bayer Records 2166
    1993 Omega Music Poland 1007
    1993 Deutsche Grammophon 437533
    1993 Erato 92187
    1991 Chandos 8913
    1990 Mercury
    1990 Mercury 432007
    1988 Philips 420485
    RFCM Symphony Orchestra
    RFCM Symphony Orchestra
    Bluebell 068
    Teldec 91729
    IMP BBC Radio Classics 9137
    Stradivari 8013
    Studio K2 5
    Teldec 18970
    EMI Music Distribution 47844
    BBC Music Magazine 277
    Supraphon 110683