Ottorino Respighi

Pini di Roma (The Pines of Rome), symphonic poem, P. 141

    Description by Uncle Dave Lewis

    Pines of Rome (Pini di Roma) is chronologically the second installment in Italian composer Ottorino Respighi's "Roman trilogy." It is a symphonic tone poem scored for a very large orchestra and cast in four movements, the musical content being representative of a literary plan. In Pines of Rome, Respighi succeeds spectacularly, producing a colorful and exciting montage of impressions that capture the imagination without wandering or becoming digressive.

    "The Pines at the Villa Borghese" depicts a scene at a once-private resort, and Respighi's music captures the energy and irreverence of children at play, including a discordant trumpet "raspberry" towards the end. This is contrasted by an austere phrase of plainchant that begins "The Pines near the Catacombs." Meditative in mood, the movement leads to a climax built around an insistent, repeated figure stated in fifths in the strings. This leads seamlessly into the next section, "Pines of the Janiculum." Opening with a spray of color from the piano, the piece slowly evolves into a beautiful nocturne punctuated by the recorded sound of a nightingale's twittering, in one of the first instances where a recorded sound is specified for a concert score. This movement is successfully "impressionistic" without being particularly "French." "The Pines of the Appian Way" transforms from a slow, mysterious section into a loud, exciting march that evokes Ancient Rome, its gladiators, and its chivalry.

    Italian music lovers in the early twentieth century more strongly resisted modern trends than those of greater Europe, as they were inclined toward opera and generally less enthusiastic about instrumental music. While Respighi was determined to lead Italian audiences, kicking and screaming if necessary, back to instrumental music, a field once dominated by Italian musicians, he was also keenly aware that it would not be an easy struggle. During the preparation of Pines of Rome for its 1924 premiere under conductor Bernardino Molinari, Respighi was quoted "Let them boo...what do I care?" And boo they did, at the raspberries in the "Villa Borghese," and at the sound of the recorded nightingale in the "Janiculum." But the triumphant march that concludes the work won the audience over, and the finale was greeted with an ovation.

    Pines of Rome was soon played to great acclaim in the capitals of Europe, and even became a concert staple in the United States. Famous conductors such as Respighi's friend Toscanini, Koussevitzky, Fritz Reiner, Stokowski, and others, adopted Pines into their repertoires. The entire community of early Hollywood composers owes a huge debt of gratitude to Respighi for Pines and its scoring, which has been, time and again, acknowledged.

    Nonetheless, many critics have condemned Respighi and Pines for being trashy, overblown, ultra-conservative and even fascistic. Time has borne out that Pines of Rome is a work that's here to stay; audiences love it, and it's the sort of work that, with a little effort, can make a good conductor sound like a great one.

    Parts/Movements

    1. I pini di Villa Borghese
    2. I pini presso una catacomba
    3. I pini del Gianicolo
    4. I pini della Via Appia

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2017 Deutsche Grammophon 4797477
    2017 IDIS IDIS 6726
    2016 Supraphon SU 41992
    2016 Deutsche Grammophon 4796018
    2015 Deutsche Grammophon 4794306
    2015 Helicon Classics 02.9666
    2015 Brilliant Classics 94900
    2014 Sony Classical 88843047122
    2014 Deutsche Grammophon 4793446
    2014 Warner Classics 545082
    2014 APO (Analogue Production Originals) CAPC 2436 SA
    2013 Decca / Mercury 4785092
    2013 Warner Classics
    2013 Deutsche Grammophon / Universal
    2012 Brilliant Classics 94392
    2011 Guild / Guild GHCD2368
    2011 Altissimo 60882
    2011 Urania WS121.111
    2011 Newton Classics 8802048
    2011 Onyx ONYX 4083
    2011 Warner Classics
    2011 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099909798823
    2011 MDG MDG 93716776
    2011 Altissimo ALT 63492
    2010 BIS 1720
    2010 Decca
    2010 Klavier Records 11182
    2010 Exton 00217
    2010 Apex
    2010 Decca 4800024
    2010 Classic Records 2015
    2010 Urania 121104
    2010 Dorian 92109
    2009 EMI Classics
    2009 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099923767
    2008 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099921750
    2008 Profil - Edition Günter Hänssler 8011
    2008 Medici Arts 22
    2008 Apex 4696152
    2008 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099951203
    2008 Decca 443759
    2008 Sony Classical Essential Classics 727987
    2007 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 0946394429
    2007 Exton 217
    2006 Brilliant 7565
    2006 RCA Red Seal 71614
    2005 Deutsche Grammophon 4775254
    2005 EMI Music Distribution 86641
    2005 EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics 7243586549
    2005 EMI Classics
    2005 Warner Music 4619542
    2004 Profil - Edition Günter Hänssler PH04015
    2004 Rca Red Seal 82876608692
    2004 Vanguard ATMCD1227
    2003 Mark Custom Recording 4867
    2002 AIX Entertainment 80006
    2002 Disney 0927445152
    2002 Sony Music 48267
    2002 Telarc Distribution 80085
    2002 Chandos 10035
    2002 Mark Custom Recording 4363
    2001 Iron Needle 1335
    2001 Music & Arts 1062
    2001 Deutsche Grammophon 469 181-2GP2
    2001 Delos 3287
    2001 JVC Compact Discs 8
    2001 Unesco 70722
    2001 History 204573
    2000 T-Rax 29
    2000 Decca 466993
    2000 Telarc Distribution 80505
    2000 Deutsche Grammophon 453191
    1999 Walt Disney / Disney 860986
    1999 Walt Disney / Disney 860986
    1999 Walt Disney #860 986
    1999 Rene Gailly 87157
    1999 BBC Legends / BBC Music 40072
    1999 Deutsche Grammophon 453 190-2GH2
    1998 Sony Classical SMK-60174
    1998 Angel Records 66864
    1997 HR-Musik 70062
    1997 Deutsche Grammophon 449724
    1997 EMI Music Distribution 55600
    1997 Conifer 75605 51292-2
    1996 Naxos 8553245
    1996 EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics 7243569358
    1996 Doyen DOYCD 045
    1995 Originals 860
    1995 Dorian 90182
    1995 RCA Victor 68079
    1995 Vanguard EVC9018
    1994 BMG 62675
    1994 Naxos 550539
    1994 EMI Music Distribution 65427
    1993 Deutsche Grammophon 437534
    1993 Naxos 550539
    1992 Chandos 8989
    1992 SBK Records 48267
    1991 Chesky Records 18
    1990 Mercury
    1990 Mercury 432007
    1990 EMI Music Distribution 47316
    1987 Deutsche Grammophon 415846
    1984 Decca
    1983 London 410145
    RCA 72374
    RFCM Symphony Orchestra
    Artists 34
    Smithsonian Records 103
    Memories 4428/29
    Memories 4428
    Mark Custom Recording 1650
    Bridge
    Quintessence 2108
    Davidoff Classic 14
    All Russia
    White Label 168
    RCA Silver Seal 60486
    EMI Music Distribution 69826
    London 444106
    Reference Recordings 95
    Philips 432133
    Philharmonia of the Nations 47
    Warner Music
    Bescol 521
    RCA 5407
    Deutsche Grammophon 413822
    Alfa 1010
    RCA 61401
    Teldec 18970
    Teldec 9031762632
    RCA 60262
    BBC Music Magazine 277
    Intersound 3515
    Pro-Arte Records 325
    Sophia Pallas and Julian Trail
    EMI Classics 698555
    Arkadia 487
    IMG Artists 100
    Legend 138
    History 204576
    As Disc 600
    EMI Music Distribution 65915