Dominic Ambrose Blogblot

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Respighi Lives in the Chamber Orchestra of New York

It feels great to get a new appreciation for a composer’s music and to hear it in new ways. To hear rediscovered pieces by a long gone composer is an even greater thrill. I experienced both in hearing the Chamber Orchestra of New York, under the direction of Salvatore Di Vittorio in recital at the Rockefeller University.

Ottorino Respighi

Di Vittorio, a composer in his own right, has a great dedication to the music of Resphigi. In recent years, he has been invited by Respighi’s heirs and curator “to edit, orchestrate and complete several early Respighi works in their first printed, critical editions under the Ottorino Respighi Publications series with publisher Panastudio in Italy.” (according to the program notes to February 3, 2012 recital).

On this occasion the Chamber Orchestra played two works which have been edited by Di Vittorio, Serenate, for small orchestra (in its U.S. premiere) and Aria for Strings. Both pieces were a revelation and a departure from our standard perception of Respighi’s music. As Di Vittorio remarked before the music began, the Serenate is more playful and more simply orchestrated than the larger and better known Respighi works. Then after a concertino by R. Strauss and the chamber version of Copland’s Appalachain Spring, the recital ended with the beautiful and soft Aria for Strings. The two Respighi pieces sat comfortably at the beginning and end of the performance, – with their transparent sonorities and calming structures, they cleansed the aural palate, so to speak. Assuming that they are among the “early” works cited in the program, they show how Respighi was able to use the traditions that he inherited as a starting point for his later, perhaps more innovative works. But this conformity to earlier norms does not in any way diminish the beauty and value of these pieces. From our perspective in the 21st Century, it is no longer relevant whether a piece was at the forefront of new forms when it was written a century ago, – what matters to us now is the worth of the music itself. And in this, the two pieces hold up beautifully.

As part of their ongoing efforts to bring the Respighi oeuvre to light, Salvatore Di Vittorio, Chamber Orchestra of New York and Panastudios have collaborated on several recordings of these works. The Aria for Strings is featured on a Naxos recording that was released in June, 2011, and the

Respighi in 1903

Serenate for Small Orchestra will be on a disc to be released later in 2012. The 2011 recording, which features the Violin Concerto in A major, also contains the Suite for Strings, which like the Aria for Strings is a warmly neo-Baroque piece that proves that these classical forms are still very viable and alive. Also on this disc is the Rossiniana, a suite full of arietta melodies, percolating flutes and Italian folk dance rhythms that pay homage to that great composer and delight the listener.

For more information, look at Di Vittorio’s website

or the website for Chamber Orchestra of New York, “Ottorino Respighi”

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February 4, 2012 - Posted by | concerts, music | , , , ,

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