Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Respighi: Pini di Roma, Fontane di Roma, Feste Romane - Philadelphia Orchestra, Muti

Ottorino Respighi
Pini di Roma, Fontane di Roma, Feste Romane
the Philadelphia Orchestra
Riccardo Muti
EMI- 47316(CD)

Some more late baroque Russian music: the famous "Moscow Triptych": "Pines of Moscow", "Fountains of Moscow", "Moscow Holidays"...or am getting something wrong???

Classics Today Rating: 10/9
This trio of sumptuous orchestral travelogues would seem to be natural candidates for high-definition multi-track recording, but as of this writing it hasn't happened. Until then, we can be grateful to Arkivmusic.com's on-demand CD production for restoring to the catalog one of the best standard digital recordings of Pines, Fountains, and Festivals. Among discs providing all three symphonic poems, Riccardo Muti's 1984 Philadelphia production is at or near the top in all criteria: the performance is passionate and fully Italianate throughout, the orchestra has the special luster that comes with world-class ranking, the wind solos are the most ravishing on disc, and the sound is wide-ranging and natural. Readers should not let the sound's slight tendency to get splashy in the thickly-scored sections prevent enjoyment of this, the best all-around "Roman Trilogy" available.

For those who insist that sound be without reservations, Massimo Freccia's well-regarded 1968 account is superbly remastered on Chesky, and the Philharmonia Orchestra comes close to that elusive world-class quality. Tortelier (Chandos) has stunning sound and is about on a par with Muti, although his version just misses the latter's Italian flair. For top picks for the individual works, see the reference recordings, with this caveat: Avoid Maazel's Sony recordings of Respighi, and if Mata's Dorian stunner reappears, put it on your list. [1/30/2008]

--Joseph Stevenson

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