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Thread: Ottorino Respighi

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    Senior Member Weston's Avatar
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    Default Ottorino Respighi

    I listened to "The Pines of Rome" at work this week for the first time in many years. Parts of it made me wonder.

    About 8 to 9 minutes into it, maybe in the second section, I hear what sounds like blues riffs in strings. I think they could be in fifths even, It sounds so much like how we would expect an orchestra backing a pop band today would sound - very familiar. But this must have been a radical and strange sound in the 20's or 30's or whenever it was written. I know the blues ostinato was just a coindcidence if I'm even hearing it correctly.

    I'm also curious if they used bird recordings when this was first performed. They couldn't have had the recording capabilities we have today, so are the current performances better now? When this piece is recorded, does the mixer put the birds in after the fact or re-record the recording of them? It's a very gray area isn't it?

    I need to listen to the other two of the rome trilogy, but I only know of "The Fountains - ."
    I'll have to look up the the other piece.

    I think the Ancient Airs and Dances suites are my favorites that I have heard from Respighi, probably because I love baroque so much, and these are like baroque on steroids.

    He was a great orchestral colorist. I'm not sure any twentieth century composer surpassed him in that department.

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    as i understand it, toscanini used the same recording of the nightingale for his nbc symphony record as was used in the premier.

    'roman festivals' is the third in the trilogy. you would also enjoy 'church windows'.

    dj

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    Senior Member Tapkaara's Avatar
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    Respighi is a great composer. I enjoy his music very much.

    Indeed, he was a great orchestral colorist, but he learned from one of the best...Rimsky-Korsakov.

    That's what's great about Respighi...he sounds like he started composing music about 40 or 50 years too late. While the world around hi began to embraces the silly sounds of Schonberg and others, he was at home in a late-Romantic idiom, which suits me fine.

    I think another similir composer is Khachaturian, in the sense that he was a throwback to a not-too-distant past and he was a master or orchestral color.
    "Music is not philosophy." --Akira Ifukube

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    Senior Member Kuhlau's Avatar
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    Together with Ravel and Rimsky-Korsakov, Respighi was one of the finest orchestrators in all of art music. The works mentioned so far clearly prove this.

    There are four other works by Respighi which I urge people to hear. These two inexpensive titles will give you more-than-adequate introductions to them all:






    FK
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    Respighi is my favorite composer. He is truly one of the greatest orchestrators. All of his symphonic poems are amazing. I also recommend Brazilian Impressions. If you like Ancient Airs and Dances, you will also like The Birds. While the Dances were transcribed from Baroque lute pieces, Birds was transcribed from Baroque keyboard pieces.
    It is a shame that Respighi does not receive more recognition.

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    Senior Member Tapkaara's Avatar
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    The Birds is a wonderul work. I had the chance to see/hear the Kalamazoo Symphony perform it last March. Well orchestrated and very tuneful, just like the Ancient Airs and Dances. I return to Ancient Airs and Dances often, as it is pure, soul-lifting music.

    I have Brazilian Impressions on disc, but only listened to it once. I'll have to give it another go.
    "Music is not philosophy." --Akira Ifukube

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    Of Respighi's symphonic poems, I think Brazilian Impressions is probably my least favorite work, but it is still quite interesting. The first movement, "Tropical Night," reminds me of Debussy's "La Parfumes de la Nuit" from Iberia from Images for Orchestra. "Butantan" is supposed to represent a snake farm, I believe. "Song and Dance" is rather fun!
    I just got Respighi's opera La Fiamma on disc. I'm more of an orchestral music person than an opera lover, so I need to listen to it a few more times. It is an interesting work as well.

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    I'm only familiar with his Botticelli Triptych. I suppose it contains the one of the best musical portrayals of spring ever written. In a way he was an impressionist like Debussy, but somewhat less radical as he recreated old forms in his music.

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    Junior Member Eftos's Avatar
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    great man and output. roman trilogy: the work of a lifetime in one zyclus. highly underrated imho.

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    I love the music of Respighi, but somehow I have never been able to reconcile it with his politics.

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    Respighi is a great composer. Very much in the impressionist style, but did his own thing with it.

    I'll echo what Eftos said above, the Roman Trilogy is great. I also like "Church Windows," "Three Botticelli Pictures," "Brazilian Impressions," among others, but he's not for everybody.

    Usually people into Debussy, Ravel, and Delius can get into Respighi pretty easily. As I have said in other posts, you just have to listen to this music on its' own terms, then, and only then, can it be fully appreciated.

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    I heard not too long ago the Pines of Rome for the first time, live, from a college orchestra. And they were amazing, which made the music amazing. That was quite the experience!
    You get a frog in your throat, you sound hoarse.

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    I would highly recommend (especially to anyone enjoying the Pines of Rome, and presumably the climax of the finale - Pines of the Appian Way) Respighi's Church Windows suite, the finale of which contains what is (in my humble opinion) one of the grandest climaxes in classical music, and the other movements are just as enjoyable to me. The recording I have is conducted by Lopez-Cobos with the Cincinnati Symphony ($8.99 on Amazon), although there are other recordings available. As others have said, the Ancient Airs and Dances are superbly arranged and orchestrated! A master talent sadly unrecognized!
    Last edited by the_unexpected; Mar-15-2009 at 19:51. Reason: spelling

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    I enjoy Boutique Fantastique, because it even has hints of Russian style, probably because Respighi did get some training from Rimsky-Korsakov in orchestration.
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    A few years ago I made a deeper exploration of this composer's work - there is so much more to him than the Roman Trilogy that is, deservedly, so well known.

    I wonder how well Respighi's output is known by the members here?

    In the same programmatic large orchestral vein, his "Ballata delle gnomidi":



    In a different vein from what he is famous for, Respighi also composed a fair amount of chamber music - some of these pieces are amongst his strongest in my opinion.

    Here is what is probably the finest performance of his Violin Sonata performed by no less than Jascha Heifetz - I was excited to see this version pop up, its been hard to track down in recent years:







    Any other favourite rarities or interesting performances anyone would care to mention? There is still a fair amount of material by this composer that has never been recorded...

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