- Audio CD (4 Mar 2000)
- Number of Discs: 2
- Format: Original recording remastered
- Label: RCA
- ASIN: B00004R8MG
- Other Editions: Audio CD
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 694,923 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
|1. The Pines Of The Villa Borghese|
|2. Pines Near A Catacomb|
|3. The Pines Of The Janiculum|
|4. The Pines Of The Appian Way|
|5. The Fountain Of Valle Giulia At Dawn|
|6. The Triton Fountain At Morning|
|7. The Fountain Of Trevi At Midday|
|8. The Villa Medici Fountain At Sunset|
|10. The Jubilee|
See all 12 tracks on this disc
|1. The Italian Girl In Algiers|
|2. Act III: Dance Of The Water Nymphs|
|3. Act IV: Prelude|
|4. Semiramide, Overture|
|5. Don Pasquale, Overture|
|6. La Forza Del Destino, Overture|
|7. Dance Of The Hours|
|8. William Tell, Overture|
As for the music: let's face it, Respighi was the Italian Gershwin. His music is splashy light classical mixed with the pop music of his time and place, same as Gershwin, and the result is about as artistic as "American in Paris." I had these "Pines and Fountains of Rome" on the original LP, which came in a deluxe package with huge photographs of the actual places. The Rossini overtures are OK I guess, though "William Tell" seems to me the best of a mediocre lot. The "Forza" overture is good, small g, and "Dance of the Hours" is an excellent ballet piece. The excerpts from Catalani's "Loreley" and "La Wally" are pleasant.
But to hear what Toscanini DOES with this music is to fully understand why he was so highly prized as a conductor. No matter how trivial the work, he imbues on it the same color and tensile strength he gave to Haydn or Beethoven. And, of course, the better the piece the better the effect. This is one of the best "Forza" overtures ever, and the very best "Dance of the Hours" ever committed to disc.
As for the sound: Good, much better than before, but not great. No amount of digital wizardry can revive the distant, unfocused sound of this "L'Italiana in Algeri" overture, and there are moments in some of the others where the famed crunching sound of the early LPs still remains. But by and large, these are beautiful transfers. As I said, I owned the original LP of the Respighi--not the "shaded dog" Victor, but the O-O-O-L-L-D-D-D ones that had silver lettering on a cranberry-colored label. A first edition pressing. And, good as the glockenspiels, trumpets and high strings sounded, there was still the uncomfortable feeling of compressed sound...of winds and brass being squished together to make a thin, nasty sound. No longer. The NBC Symphony sounds warm and lush here, perhaps less superficially brilliant but more like a real orchestra.
I cannot say enough about the overall high quality of the sound of these new transfers. When the music is great, as for instance the Verdi and Cherubini Requiems in the "Choral Works" album (see my review there), the new transfers are almost overwhelming.
But I wonder...is RCA planning to remaster the New York Philharmonic recordings as well? One can only hope.
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