These two CD selections of Ottorino Respeghi's most popular works is very well done. The London Symphony Orchestra does a good job with the Belfagor Overture, the Pines of Rome, and the Fountains of Rome. Respeghi was a master of orchestration and the London Symphony Orchestra holds their own in revealing the depth and drama that Respeghi poured into his work. The Fountains of Rome was an immediate success and as you listen you can distinguish the varied characteristics of each fountain and the time of day that the fountain is observed. The fountain at the Villa Julia is depicted at sunrise, on the outskirts of Rome, whereas the Triton Fountain at mid-morning is characterized by the rush and play of the Tritons.
Neville Marriner and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields has a wonderful interpretation of The Birds, a five section work that is delightful, and a nice interpretation of Tritttico Botticelliano. Respighi, ever the student of those who wrote before him, draws upon French composer Rameau in The Birds. The dove, hen, nightingale and cuckoo are all depicted. When listening to the Botticelli inspired work you will recognize the ancient hymn "Oh Come, Oh Come, Emanuel" expanded in a cadence and manner that reminded me of the work of Vaughn Williams. This work corresponds to the Botticelli painting The Adoration of the Magi. The Primavera and the Birth of Venus inspired two other compositions.
The CD ends with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra interpretation of Ancient Airs and Dances. Respighi was a student of ancient music and the Italian composers that preceded him. One work draws upon the work of Galileo Galilei's father Vincenzo. The study, appropriation, reinterpretation, and combination of previous composers brings depth to these works.
The work of Respeghi becomes more dear with each listening and this double CD offers a great selection.