Classical CD Reviews

ALFONSO REGA: L’olocausto (Sinfonia No. 4)– Orch. Cantelli/Costanzo Porta Choir/Heinrich Unterhofer – Alfonso Rega Music

Lofty premise but does not really fully engage the listener.

Published on September 25, 2012

ALFONSO REGA: L’olocausto (Sinfonia No. 4)– Orch. Cantelli/Costanzo Porta Choir/Heinrich Unterhofer – Alfonso Rega Music

ALFONSO REGA: L’olocausto (Sinfonia No. 4 in C-minor)– Orchestra Cantelli/Costanzo Porta Choir/Heinrich Unterhofer – Alfonso Rega Music, 56: 58 ***:

Alfonso Rega was completely unknown to me. The Italian composer appears to be a bit of a Renaissance man. According to the biography on his own website, he has written over four hundred works and been the recipient of several awards but we do not get very much information about his background. He may be mostly a self trained composer; he wouldn’t be the first. And the CD is self-produced and released, which explains why no catalog number. Professionally, he has spent many years as an International Consultant (I am not clear what that is.)

Rega has written three other symphonies which are all based on fairly lofty, philosophical or serious topics (such as the 9/11 attacks or the Dante “Divine Comedy”). This work, “The Holocaust” is, clearly, no exception. Rega’s booklet notes explain that he wrote the work in memory of all who died and as a “warning for future generations that (no) more such barbarisms will happen again.”

Can’t argue with that. The Symphony exists in six movements with clearly pertinent and imagery-laden subtitles such as “The forced gathering in towns and houses” or “O! What a pain (in prison)”.

The music itself is attractive but a little derivative. There are wrenching violin solos reminiscent of traditional Jewish folk music (similar to the music from “Schindler’s List”, for example). There is a choir with vocal soloists, most prominent in the final movement, “Liberation”; the words to which are by Rega, apparently. This movement actually seems to echo Beethoven a bit.

The sound and imagery is pleasant throughout; even dramatic in places – as one would expect. Rega’s orchestrations are quite nice and the harmonies are very straight forward and traditional. So, on many levels, this sample of Rega’s work is enjoyable. For me, it just did not leave a strong, indelible impression. The strains of what sounded like movie music, Morricone even; or Beethoven, Mozart, Verdi and others all make for a nice listening experience. As a whole, though, the work seems to exist at the level of pleasant.

The performances by the Orchestra Cantelli, the Coro Costanzo Porta (named after a somewhat obscure Renaissance composer) and soloists under the fine direction of Heinrich Unterhofer are all very good. I need to hear more from Mr. Rega before deciding too much on his output. This piece is nice but lacks a little “weight” for such a serious topic.

—Daniel Coombs

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