Ottorino Respighi – Pini di Roma, Trittico, Tre Corali
Beethoven Orchester Bonn / Stefan Blunier
PS3 SACD ISO: 2,90 GB | Stereo + Multichannel DSD | Full Artwork | 5% Recovery Info
Label/Cat#: MDG # 937 1677-6 | Country/Year: Germany 2011 | Genre: Classical
The latest in MDG’s fine series of live recordings by Stefan Blunier and the Beethoven Orchestra of Bonn is an intelligently chosen programme of three of Respighi’s orchestral works that illustrate the many and varied aspects of this master orchestrator’s compositions as well as his homage to music of the past. It is also pleasing to see two of the works making their first appearance on SACD.
The delicate ‘Trittico Botticelliano’ of 1927 was conceived while the composer and his wife were touring the United States and is representative of his interest in, and study of, the Renaissance and Baroque music of his native country. Respighi chose to depict both the atmosphere and spirit of three of the most celebrated of Botticelli’s paintings, ‘Spring (La Primavera)’, ‘The Adoration of the Magi’ and ‘The Birth of Venus’ using small orchestral forces. Each of these three tiny tone poems is exquisitely scored, and thanks to Blunier’s relaxed tempi, the players of his cultivated Bonn orchestra have time to relish each of the individual solo opportunities provided. The sound is both diaphanous and crystal clear.
Like many 20th century composers Respighi made arrangements of the music of earlier masters, and the ‘Tre Corali’ is one such example. His arrangement for orchestra of three of Bach’s most well-known organ chorales may be anachronistic, but few could fail to marvel at Respighi’s imaginative scoring and respectful treatment of them. The three chorales are ‘Nun komm der Heiden Heiland’, ‘Meine Seele erhebt den Herren’ and ‘Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme’. The manner in which the luxurious and glowing string sound has been captured on this recording is particularly arresting.
The final work on this SACD is the much-recorded ‘Pini di Roma’, the second part of the so-called ‘Roman Trilogy’ and a piece beloved of many audiophiles. Blunier is not a conductor who rushes his fences and his tempi in all but the first section of the work are slightly more measured than is often the case, but are nevertheless quite convincing. The first part of ‘The Pines near a Catacomb’ is wonderfully atmospheric as is the balancing of the distant trumpet and nightingale song in the section that follows. Unfortunately the total absence of deep organ pedal notes at any point comes as a major disappointment. Blunier’s steady pace does pay dividends as the army of the Consul traverses the Appian Way accompanied, on this recording, by exceptionally thunderous drums. It is, however, a pity that the use of the surround channels for the extra brass is a mite cautious and consequently the work’s final bars fail to make the impact found on the recent thrilling Neschling recording Respighi: Roman Trilogy – Neschling. An enjoyable performance then, but not a first choice for this work in an increasingly crowded field.
MDG’s 5.1 recording is of high quality, possessing a wide dynamic range, an excellent sense of depth and tonal veracity, but it is important to stress that this disc does need to be played at a high volume setting or the sound can seem somewhat lacking in presence. Though these are live recordings, extraneous noise is minimal and there is no applause.
Not withstanding the reservations outlined above, this is a most enjoyable SACD. SA-CD.net