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Customer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
Respighi: Church Windows; Brazilian Impressions; Rossiniana
Format: Audio CD|Change
Price:£8.50+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

on 24 April 2009
This CD arrived a few days ago and at first I was completely underwhelmed. However after a few listens it's certainly starting to grow on me. The sound is very good indeed, which always helps with unfamiliar music, and the fact that this music is stronger on texture and drama than it is on tunes. It could almost be the sound track to a movie. Definitely worth a listen, especially if, like me, you find the Roman Trilogy a bit too 'full on' and bombastic.
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on 27 November 2007
I'm sure there's some kind of law that any review of any Respighi disc is obliged to mention his Roman trilogy, so let's get that out of the way first: yes, his Roman trilogy is great, and Naxos has form in this area - I really like the Batiz recording from way back. So every subsequent piece we hear by Respighi must face comparison with those works. In fact I found myself comparing the contents of this disc not with Respighi's own music, but with that of other composers. For instance, the first movement of Church Windows, depicting the flight of the Holy Family into Egypt, reminded me in principle of Borodin's In the Steppes of Central Asia, and the aerial battles of St Michael brought to mind Walton's Spitfire Prelude. These sorts of comparisons are not really fair - we shouldn't criticise something for not being what it isn't - but I found that my attention wasn't being grabbed. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that the title Church Windows, and the titles of its movements, came after the music was composed, so to some extent this is generic music with a specific idea papered over it. If the movements were just numbered 1 to 4, would they sound better? Certainly the "flight" into Egypt might be better described as a stroll.

With Brazilian Impressions, of course the first composer you're going to think of is Villa-Lobos, which again is not a fair comparison as these are only Respighi's impressions from a trip there in 1927. If this work is anything to go by, he must have had a relaxing time there, the second movement's snakes notwithstanding (although I must take issue with the booklet notes' claim that this is "alarmingly sinister" - I'm not sure it would be especially out of place in Saint-Saens' Carnival of the Animals).

Given my comments so far, it's ironic that when Respighi is deliberately evoking a particular composer, I find him on top form. Rossiniana, based on some of Rossini's piano music, is the highlight of the disc, and especially its Lamento (in the style of a typical Rossini dramatic aria, but filtered through another hundred years of Italian opera) deserves to be widely known. As with the other works, there's plenty to hear, but this time Respighi seems to be really enjoying himself.

I suspect that if you like orchestral music for, as it were, the sake of orchestral music, then you'll find a lot here to enjoy; for me, two-thirds of the disc lacked the killer punch, but the final third made up for it.
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on 8 December 2009
Anyone who likes Respighi's music should have this CD in their collection, to accompany Pines, Fountains, the Birds et al. The Buffalo Philharmonic is in zinging form (which I would expect, anyway) under the baton of JoAnn Falletta - a lady of whom, I must admit, I had not previously heard. I expect to hear of her in the future, however.
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