Pizzetti Symphony in A and Harp Concerto – neo-classical or pre-classical?

Pizzetti’s sprawling 43-minute symphony was written to commemorate the 2600th Anniversary of the Japanese Imperial Dynasty. This 1940 Symphony doesn’t have a particularly Japanese feel to it. Rather, the work has a strong modal flavor — in some places it reminded me of Vaughan Williams.

Pizzetti was a contemporary of Ottorino Respighi and shared his love of Renaissance Italian music. Like Respighi, Pizzetti lets his ideas flow from one to another in a fairly loose structure. This symphony isn’t one of high drama but rather a series of beautiful set pieces.

The Harp Concerto was completed in 1960. Here the modality is even more pronounced. It presents an Arcadian setting for the harp, casting it the role of a shepherd’s lyre. In a year that saw the premiere of Berio’s “Circles” and Penderecki’s “Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima” this work probably sounded quite comforting.

Harpist Margherita Bassani gives the concerto a sympathetic reading. This is a work that celebrates beauty, and Bassani brings out the full potential of the music.

I was less enamored of the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale dell Rai. In both works, there were times when the strings sounded a little ragged. And in the first movement of the symphony, there were also some minor intonation problems. They weren’t pronounced enough to be jarring, just distracting.

Still, these are interesting compositions. Pizzetti wasn’t so much a neo-classicist as a pre-classicist. I’m glad these works are available.

Ildebrando Pizzetti: Symphony in A; Harp Concerto in E-flat
Margherita Bassani, harp
Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale dell Ari; Damian Iorio, conductor
Naxos 8.573613

More Recent Posts

  • #ClassicsaDay #FamousLastWorks Week 3

    Tags: , , , , , ,

    For the month of October, the #ClassicsaDay team (of which I’m a part), decided to go with a Halloween theme. The idea is to share works marked in some way with the composer’s demise. It can be the last piece a composer completed before death, or one left incomplete at death. For my part, I […]

  • Jazz at 100 Hour 83: Road to Fusion

    Tags: , , , , , ,

    Miles Davis Jazz-rock fusion or, often, simply “fusion” emerged in the late 60s as the child of many mothers. Characterized by electric instruments and rock rhythms, it could be loud and fast, but just as likely, could be melodic or lyrical or funky. The Charles Lloyd Quartet, the Gary Burton Quartet, Tony Williams Lifetime and […]

  • Czech Choral Masterworks: Martinu, Reznicek, Fiala

    Tags: , , , , , , , ,

    This has to be one of the most unusual albums of choral music I’ve listened to. The concept is solid — sacred music by 20th Century Czech composers. What’s unusual is the relationship between the composers. The Czech Philharmonic Choir of Brno performs two works by Bohuslav Martinu. Rounding out the album are works by […]

  • New Blues News – 10/17/2018

    New Blues News – 10/17/2018 Doyle Bramhall II – Shades (Provogue): Doyle Bramhall II certainly has one of the most unusual music sensitivities around. He blends blues, rock and a variety of sensitivities, whether by feeling or musicality. The song order here is unusual, starting with two strong rockers beyond which the songs are mostly […]

  • John D’earth stops by Jazz Messenger, Oct 19

    John D’earth will be stopping by the studio this Friday, October 19, around 11am, to talk about the Free Bridge Quintet’s concert this Saturday, October 20, at 8pm at UVA’s Old Cabell Hall. Entitled “Living Legend”, the concert will showcase the music of legendary tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins. More info here: http://music.virginia.edu/free-bridge-quintet-living-legend

  • New Jazz Adds – 10/16/2018

    New Jazz Adds – 10/16/2018 Ben Allison – Quiet Revolution (Self-produced): Ben Allison (bass), Steve Cardenas (acoustic guitar) and Ted Nash (tenor sax, clarinet) have decided to stage their own quiet revolution and they certainly have the subtle cool to pull it off. They selected a half dozen Jim Hall compositions, sprinkled in two Jimmy […]