Ettore Panizza Conducts MENDELSSOHN and BOERO – Incl. Mendelssohn’s “Italian” Symphony & excerpts from Boero’s operetta – Pristine Audio

by | Oct 19, 2009 | Classical Reissue Reviews | 0 comments

Ettore Panizza Conducts MENDELSSOHN and BOERO = MENDELSSOHN: Fingal’s Cave Overture; Symphony No. 4 in A Major, Op. 90 “Italian”; Wedding March from A Midsummer Night’s Dream; BOERO: El Matrero: 6 Excerpts – Pedro Mirassou, tenor/Nena Juarez, mezzo-soprano/Apollo Granforte, baritone/Orchestra of La Scala, Milan (Mendelssohn)/Orchestra of Teatro Colon, Buenos Aires/Ettore Panizza

Pristine Audio PASC189, 67:15 [ – may be downloaded in various forms] ****:

Producer Mark Obert-Thorn resurrects the sadly neglected orchestral legacy of Ettore Panizza (1875-1967), the Argentinian conductor who served with the Rome Opera and La Scala, noted for his work in Verdi and for having led the Alfano-finished version of Puccini’s Turandot in its first performance. In his La Scala tenure, Panizza served as assistant to Toscanini, so the occasional resemblance in styles in musical approach is not accidental.

The 1928 Fingal’s Cave Overture for Italian RCA has all the essentials of the Mendelssohn style, given the romantic penchant for slurring the phrases with portamenti and underlining the beat with thick accents. The clarity of the contrapuntal sections proves noteworthy, and Panizza’s tempi are quick without sacrificing the natural temper of the music, its breezy evocation of gulls and waves native to the Hebrides. The Italian Symphony (5 January 1931) moves briskly, a la Toscanini, again with the slides in the Andante that seem archaic but still musical. The string legato of the La Scala Orchestra lulls us, as does the smooth surface of the restoration. The Con moto moderato movement skips and hops rather idiosyncratically, Panizza’s treating it as an ethnic dance, a Scottish minuet. Nice flute work as it emerges from the French horn ensemble in the trio. The deliberate Saltarello has a sometimes heavy foot for the Presto, but it moves fatefully and lithely. Panizza’s realization has definite character, whatever quibbles we have with the phrasing. The trumpet, strings, and woodwind work exemplary, the music conveys vital power. Regal sentiments mark the familiar Wedding March (10 January 1931), the La Scala brass in full splendor, the wind and string trills marvelous.

Boero’s Argentine opera El Matrero (The Bandit) had its world premier under Panizza 12 July 1929. Baritone Apollo Granforte, a star for HMV, induced producers to record the popular opera in August 1929. An opera in three acts, the style extends the verismo style of Mascagni, the setting the pampas and the gaucho life. La Media Cana, the most famous excerpt, introduces the sound of strumming guitars and swaying rhythms, interrupted by the fleeing of the Matrero. Granforte’s virile baritone finds a natural outlet in “El Canto del Hornero,” his voice often reminiscent of Ezio Pinza as he sings of the ovenbird. Tenor Pedro Mitrassou (Pedro Cruz) sings a love song, but his ardor is not returned. Nena Juarez’s mezzo-soprano (Pontezuela) seems guttural and raspy, but her vocalism proves adequate to the coarse characters who suffer love and death in this melodrama which ends literally in consuming flames.

— Gary Lemco


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