CASELLA: Symphony No. 2; Scarlattiana – Roscoe, p./ BBC Phil./ Noseda – Chandos CASELLA: Notte di maggio; Cello Con.; Scarlattiana – Soloists/ Orch. Sinfonia de Roma/ La Vecchia – Naxos

by | Feb 27, 2012 | Classical CD Reviews

CASELLA: Symphony No. 2 Op. 12 (1883-1947, premiere recordings). Scarlattiana Op. 44 (1926) – Martin Roscoe, piano/ BBC Philharmonic /Gianandrea Noseda – Chandos CHAN 10605, 76:58 [Distr. by Naxos] *****:
CASELLA: Notte di maggio, for voice and orchestra, Op. 20 (1913). Cello Concerto Op. 58 (1934-35). Scarlattiana Op. 44 (1926) – Olivia Andreini, mezzo /Andrea Noferini, cello/ Sun Hee You, piano/ Orch. Sinfonia di Roma/ Franchesco La Vecchia – Naxos 8.572416, 66:18 *****: 
Thanks to Chandos and Naxos, Alfredo Casella has re-entered the lists of major 20th-century conservative composers; he came from a long line of musicians: his grandfather knew Paganini. He studied with Fauré alongside Ravel and Enescu. His circles included Debussy, Stravinsky, Falla, Busoni, Mahler and Richard Strauss. From 1927 to 1929, Casella was the principal conductor of the Boston Pops (he was succeeded by Arthur Fiedler). He championed Emmanuel Moor’s Duplex-Coupler Pianoforte contraption.
Casella’s huge 50-minute Symphony No. 2 was finished during an extraordinary time when Rosenkavalier, Firebird, Le Martyre de St. Sébastien, Mahler’s Ninth Symphony and Sibelius’s Fourth Symphony were all being created. It is, in fact, a piece of Mahlerian proportions and well worth every minute, with Wagnerian energy and dark romantic longings. If the classical music world were run right, Noseda would be taking his BBC band on a world tour with only Casella. Basically, if you are into Masterpiece Theatre, early 19th century cultural decadence, you will love what Chandos is doing; as for the sound, there is still no comparison to the weight and size Chandos brings to big orchestral music. There may be multiple Grammys here.
Naxos’ world premiere recording of Notte di maggio deserves a Grammy of its own. It’s a surrealistic dream of beauty which, in the moody Roman performance has a nightmarish quality that Tim Burton and Johnny Depp ought to hear.
The Cello Concerto, also in its only recording, is an altogether more unconventional and yet no less splendid work, something which cellists would kill to play and audiences love to hear: Alternating mad, whirling energy with long lyrical passages that will appeal to music lovers who love to drench themselves in yoga. The sound of this and Scarlattiana, restored in the OSR Studios in Rome, is fine although not as spatially exciting as the Chandos. Unfortunately, Notte was recorded in a different, tubbier venue.
—Laurence Vittes

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