Di Vittorio makes Respighi works shimmer

Ottorino Respighi is known for his brilliant orchestrations — but for most listeners, that knowledge is based on his Roman trilogy of tone poems. Salvatore Di Vittorio and the Chamber Orchestra of New York dig a little deeper into the composer’s catalog. Their discoveries reaffirm Respighi’s reputation, while providing an enjoyable listening experience.

The Suite in G for strings and organ is an early work, yet Respighi’s genius for orchestration is already in place. This would be an excellent companion piece to Saint-Saen’s Third Symphony, although Respighi’s neo-classical work might sound a little understated in comparison.

The Seranta is a short, simple work that still manages to dazzle with its imaginative orchestration over the course of its five-minute playing time.

Gli uccelli (The Birds), like Respighi’s more famous tone poems, show the composer’s skill at painting with music. Respighi incorporates bird calls into the music, but in this performance their recognizable, but not overdone. Rather, the calls were fully integrated into the music presenting impressions — rather than literal interpretations of — the birds depicted in each movement.

The Trittico botticelliano is (in my opinion) the strongest work on the album. Maestro di Vittorio and his ensemble deliver a spirited performance of “Spring,” the first movement. “The Adoration of the Magi,” the middle movement is played with sensitivity and delicacy, and the finale, “The Birth of Venus” fairly shimmers in places.

The Chamber Orchestra of New York is a group of young players, and sometimes that shows. Sometimes the strings lacked precision in more active passages, and there seemed to my ears to be some slight intonation problems in the Seranata. Still, they play with a very rich and warm sound, which is especially gorgeous in the slow movements. Performing these works with a chamber — rather than full — orchestra gives the music a feeling of transparency. It was a sound that seemed perfectly suited to these works.

Ottorino Respighi: The Birds, Trittico botticelliano, Serenata, Suite in G for organ and strings
Chamber Orchestra of New York; Salvatore di Vittorio, conducctor
Naxos

More Recent Posts

  • Peter Lieuwen Concertos – Buoyant and animated

    This is a release I’d like to keep on hand for all those curmudgeons who complain that contemporary classical music is ugly and unlistenable. Peter Lieuwen’s compositions are anything but. There’s a certain exuberance in his music that I find appealing. My impression is that Lieuwen isn’t concerned with discovering new sounds never heard before […]

  • Michael Haydn’s Serenade

    Johann Michael Haydn was the younger brother of the much more successful and famous Franz Joseph Haydn. It’s not surprising that Michael’s work is seldom performed. Who could compete with the father of the symphony and the string quartet? But during their lifetimes, that fame didn’t matter. Michael Haydn was able to have a successful career, […]

  • Sons of Pitches on Lambeth Live, Dec 30

    Sons of Pitches will put on the December 30 edition of Lambeth Live (heard each Friday night from 8-9 on WTJU), and you are invited to be part of the studio audience for this FREE concert broadcast! 350 Emmet St N, Charlottesville on ye olde GPS will get you to the large lot (do NOT […]

  • The Old-Time Snake Milkers on Lambeth Live, Dec 16

    The Old-Time Snake Milkers will put on the December 16 edition of Lambeth Live (heard each Friday night from 8-9 on WTJU), and you are invited to be part of the studio audience for this FREE concert broadcast! 350 Emmet St N, Charlottesville on ye olde GPS will get you to the large lot (do […]

  • Discovering the Classical String Trio

    As the Vivaldi Project points out in the liner notes for this release, string trios from the classical era are woefully under-represented in the performing and recording repertoire. It’s not because instrumental grouping’s unusual — there were hundreds of string trios written between 1750 and 1827 (the approximate dates of the classical era). And, as […]

  • New Jazz Adds – 11/30/2016

    New Jazz Adds – 11/30/2016 Ryan Blotnick – Kush (Songlines): Ryan Blotnik (guitar) has been developing his musical horizons for the past decade. He has shifted direction from post bop to free jazz, mining “…the bittersweet melodic/harmonic vein balanced by an African-influenced rhythmic elan. Conceived as an antidote to the more aggressive forms of New York […]