Respighi has the misfortune at least in the UK as being considered almost a one or two hit wonder, namely works such as 'Festivals of Rome ' and the like, have tended to obscure some of the great riches that this great composer has to offer the inquisitive listener. That is why this reissued programme of extended orchestral song pieces from Brilliant Classics is such a pleasant and welcome surprise.
The music has that unique Respighi blend of lush Straussian sense of melody and drama,coupled with a pleasing pastoralism that reminds me at least of an Italianate Vaughan Williams matched with an ear for arresting musical detail such as in the introduction to 'l'addrazione De 'i'. Respighi true to form refers back to older musical forms from the Renaissance and Baroque eras, utilizing ideas from composers such as Monteverdi, yet somehow blending them with more modern themes to make a music that is wholly individual.To some ears Respighi's magpie-like tendencies might be a tad vulgar or undigested, but when it works as in the reworking of the carol 'O Come,O Come Emmanuel',the effect is never less then deeply heartening.
This set then is to be highly recommended. The performances by mezzo Janet Baker and the City of London Sinfonia are committed , sensitive and apposite. The production is warm and detailed and the sleevenotes and inclusion of the texts add greatly to the enjoyment of it all. Most importantly though, this is disc is to be recommended because the music itself is joy to listen to, its well crafted,highly atmospheric and thematically varied. Boredom is never an option when listening to Respighi.
This is one purchase you will not regret, I promise.