MARTUCCI: Piano Concerto No. 2, Op. 66; Momento musicale e Minuetto; Novelletta, Op. 82, No. 2; Serenata, op. 57, No. 2; Colore orientale, Op. 44, No. 3 – Gesualdo Coggi, piano/ Rome Symphony Orchestra/ Francesco La Vecchia, conductor – Naxos 8.570932, 68:56 *****:
We now get around to one of Giuseppe Martucci’s big scores, and most popular (if such a word can be used here), the Piano Concerto No. 2. This thing is a mammoth 40 minutes, and not a dull moment in any of it. I reviewed Volumes 1 and 2 of this series with near raves, and there is nothing here to change my mind. I think that Mr. Coggi outdoes Carlo Bruno and Riccardo Muti on their 1995 Sony disc, so it can be safely retired even with the slightly more interesting singing of Mirella Freni in the La canzone del ricordi. Naxos is giving us a very important series that is likely to stand for some time, and at a price that can’t be beat.
The Second Concerto was written in 1886 for the composer’s own use, championed by Toscanini and even appearing on Mahler’s last concert in 1911 in New York. It is a thick piece, full of ideas and emblazoned with the Romantic ethos. The first movement is longer than the next two combined, utterly symphonic in scope and masterly in its treatment of the piano both as a partner in symphonic discourse and a leader in true concerto style. Musically speaking, this is as substantive a concerto as you could want, and a testament to the composer’s ingenuity. The unusual key of B flat minor had already been used by Tchaikovsky 10 years earlier, and he also created a top-heavy work that feels somewhat concluded after the first movement ends. Martucci’s is actually more balanced; one feels the need for more, as if the argument is not yet over.
The other pieces here were arranged for orchestra later after composition. They are short tone poems in all but name, very pleasant and a delight to hear. The same standards apply as in the previous issues, and the whole thing is recommended without hesitation.
— Steven Ritter