RESPIGHI Complete Orchestral Music Vol 3
The latest in Francesco La Vecchia’s series of Respighi orchestral music brings another generous haul of rarities and enjoys production values that, thankfully, seem to have risen a notch or two since the last instalment to have come my way (5/13). I particularly enjoyed Andrea Noferini’s impassioned, songful contribution in the 1921 Adagio con variazioni for cello and orchestra. Vadim Brodsky, too, makes a decent showing in the attractively modal and predominantly reflective Concerto gregoriano from the same year. The early, incident-packed (1903) Fantasia slava is another conspicuous success, pianist Désirée Scuccuglia audibly relishing its skittish mood-swings and impish humour – the main Allegro unapologetically pilfers the swaggering Furiant from Smetana’s The Bartered Bride!
As for the two remaining items, I’m bound to say there are more convincing alternatives available, not least from Edward Downes on Chandos, whose advocacy of the ambitious 1928 Toccata (with Geoffrey Tozer a commandingly secure soloist) and sprawling, Rimsky-meets-Strauss Sinfonia drammatica of 1914 (lasting over an hour and an outrageously decadent, late-Romantic splurge if ever there was one) displays a far shrewder grasp of the bigger scheme and features altogether more headily opulent and tidier playing from the BBC Philharmonic than La Vecchia’s admittedly enthusiastic Roman outfit can muster. (In the Toccata, Bertoglio’s instrument doesn’t always sound in the rudest of health.)
But this is a bold and colourful programme retailing at such an absurdly low price. As the old saying goes: you pays your money and you takes your choice.