Born in 1879, Ottorino Respighi’s musical education was comprehensive, his technical abilities accomplished, and his understanding of music assured, even as a young man. After studying performance, composition and musicology in Bologna, composition in Berlin and orchestration in St Petersburg with Rimsky-Korsakov, he became professor of composition at the Conservatorio di Santa Cecilia in Rome in 1913. Although his extensive education had equipped him with all the necessary technical skills and musical knowledge to excel, he had, to this point, failed to translate his considerable abilities into the composition of truly brilliant music. However, his arrival in Rome, and the city’s beauty, history, architecture and people, stimulated his creativity like never before, and allowed him to craft works of great passion and colour.
Respighi’s first great triumph as a composer – and the work that he remains most well known for to this day – is his ‘Roman trilogy’, which comprises the symphonic poems Feste Romane, Fontane di Roma and Pini di Roma, featured on the first disc of this set. With each individual work dedicated to one particular aspect of Rome – from its fountains to its festivals – this trilogy is an atmospheric, evocative musical journey through Rome, and demonstrates Respighi’s skill as an orchestral composer.
The works collected on the second disc also highlight Respighi’s masterful control of timbre and orchestral colour. While Gli Uccelli blends Baroque forms with late-Romantic musical language in an evocation of birdsong, the neo-Classical Suite for Strings and song-inspired Suite in G minor for strings and organ display the composer’s intricate knowledge of music history.
The Orchestra Sinfonica di Roma, conducted by maestro Francesco di Vecchia have Roman blood in their veins, and like few others evoke the atmosphere of this wonderful, typically Italian, music. The orchestra won high critical acclaim with their superb recordings of Casella and Martucci.
- Recording made in Rome in 2009
- The first volume in a series of Respighi’s complete orchestral music
- Comprehensive booklet notes in English and Italian