on 8 June 2010
This is a fantastic CD. The recording is very natural and stunning without being sensationalistic, the presentation is good and the liner notes are very interesting to read. Chandos even manages to print every tempo indication Casella gives in his works; and there're many!
The Symphony nr.2 is a hotchpotch of ideas, full of adrenaline, really a work of a youngster in his twenties, something like the way youngsters today drive cars: risky, fast and trying to impress the girls. That's what Casella does too - figural spoken. It's loud and fast but has a beautiful paced slower section (Adagio) with challenging orchestral effects. If you'd to pin this work to a certain period you'd certainly put it in the middle of the 1900-1920 with it's bright optimism and expressionistic gestures and it's use of percussion. So after an exhausting 40 minutes the symphony concludes with a nice fade-out and all the music goes into oblivion - only to get going again and after 6 more minutes ending in one of those vulgar and bombastic outpourings symphonists can end symphonies. I thought `what the heck?', first thinking it was another (short) work but it wasn't. It was the epilogue to the symphony! What a surprise! But I didn't like it! I'm not a composer but if I would I'd have thrown it into the fire. It's totally unnecessary and we can't blame Chandos for including but what a weak gesture of Casella.
After the heroics and the biceps and triceps of the symphony the other work on the disc can sound childish; it's Scarlattiana, a work for piano and smaller orchestra. It's in the neo-classical way of composing and tries to mimic Stravinsky's Pulcinella. It's very enjoyable but I wouldn't recommend listeners to listen to it right after the exhausting symphony. You won't get a proper idea of the piece that way so listen to it the other day. Then it's more to your liking and your ears are fresh.