Title

Nino Rota Orchestral Works Vol 2

Category Discography
Description

Disc 1

War and Peace/Guerra e Pace (1956)
  1. Introduzione Orchestra (2:30)
  2. Momento musicale (1:30)
  3. Valzer di Natasha (1:31)
  4. La rosa di Novgorod (2:13)
  5. N.73 Finale (2:30)
Concerto per trombone e orchestra (1966)
Giuliano Rizzotto (Trombone)
  1. Allegro giusto (3:30)
  2. Lento ben ritmato (6:04)
  3. Allegro moderato (3:53)
Guardando il Fujiyama (1976)
  1. Andante (4:03)
Concerto per corno e orchestra KV 412 di W. A. Mozart (1958-59)*
Sandro Ceccarelli (French Horn)
  1. Andante sostenuto (5:40)
La Fiera di Bari Ouverture (1963)*
  1. Allegro con spirito (7:33)
Amarcord Suite (1973)
  1. Danzando nella nebbia (2:06)
  2. La Fogaraccia (2:57)
  3. Le "manine" di primavera (2:12)
  4. Lo struscio (4:47)

Disc 2

Le Notti di Cabiria Suite*
  1. Le notti di Cabiria (2:22)
  2. L'illusionista (2:25)
  3. Il trasloco (2:46)
  4. Finale (2:54)
Concerto per fagotto e orchestra
Alarico Lenti (Bassoon)
  1. Toccata: Allegretto vivace (4:30)
  2. Recitativo: Lento (2:54)
  3. Tema con variazioni: Andantino (1:15)
  4. Variazione I. - Valzer (1:03)
  5. Variazione II. - Polka (0:50)
  6. Variazione III. - Siciliana (2:02)
  7. Variazione IV. - Scherzo (0:58)
  8. Variazione V. - Sarabanda (1:08)
  9. Variazione VI. - Galop (2:40)
La scuola di Guida*
Valentina Corradetti (Soprano), Paolo Cauteruccio (Tenor)
  1. La scuola di guida (12:27)
Castel del Monte ballata per corno e orchestra
Giuseppe Amatulli (French Horn)
  1. Andante sostenuto e sognante (10:35)

Ensemble/Ensemble: Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi

Direttore/Director: Giussepe Grazioli

* Prima esecuzione mondiale/World Premiere Recording

Casa Dicografica/Record Label: Decca (4810394)

Recensioni/Reviews:
Classics Today
colonnesonore.net

Note alla discografia/Liner Notes :
Disc 1

War and Peace/Guerra e Pace (1956)
In an interview in 1971 Nino Rota said of his musical tastes, among other things: “I have certainly always liked Prokofiev, but there are also the nineteenth-century Russians. I’ve been fascinated by Mussorgsky for a long time, ever since I was a boy. I remember Toscanini’s Boris at La Scala, which made a great impression on me.” And the young Rota’s precious cultural baggage probably included not only the Russian composers of that period but also Tolstoy’s literary monument War and Peace. So when he was asked in the mid fifties to take part in making a film of the novel, he devoted himself with a great sense of deeply felt commitment to composing the considerable quantity of music required for the film, which lasted over 3 hours. However, as he himself said several times, no music, however well composed, can sustain a film that does not work. And War and Peace is a film that has not endured, despite its star cast – Audrey Hepburn, Henry Fonda, Mel Ferrer – and the enormous production resources employed. The lack of a consistent interpretation or a coherent strategy for the transposition of Tolstoy’s great novel to the screen converted it into a meaningless hodgepodge. However, because of his innate modesty, Rota preferred never to say something that we wish to emphasize here, which is that the music of an unsuccessful film may become a success, a great success, outside the setting of the cinema, because of its intrinsic quality. And so Natasha’s Waltz and La Rosa di Novgorod/The Maid of Novgorod, two of the main themes in the soundtrack, became part of the repertoire of orchestras and singers all over the world for many years.

The Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra (1966) is one of the most successful works for solo instrument and orchestra in terms of formal balance. Subdivided into the standard three movements, the concerto develops as a kind of display piece for an instrument that seems not very well suited to donning the garb of an agile musical acrobat. From the very first movement it is the trombone that leads the hunt, with a predilection for the upper middle part of its range and a remarkable preponderance of staccato notes and rhythmical syncopation. The orchestra, treated very gently, with pizzicatos on the strings and quick, short entries at full volume in order not to detract from the importance of the soloist, helps to create an ideal texture on which the trombone can exercise its own leadership. The central movement, appropriately, has a slow tempo in which deeper meditative tones pave the way for a dialogue between the soloist and various instruments in the orchestra. This then leads into a kind of waltz typical of Rota, slightly halting, à la Shostakovich, in which the soloist launches into a lyrical theme supported and stimulated by an orchestra that is definitely more present than in the first movement. The third movement confirms the felicitous outcome of the score. The trombone here takes on a deeper tonality but maintains a remarkably dynamic quality, with short staccatos and quick melodic interjections, while the orchestra mainly uses the strings, which keep to the middle register, accompanying and supporting the soloist in evolutions that recall a rustic scene where some kind of flying insect – a trombone/bumblebee, another reminder of nineteenth- century Russian music – flits about in the luxuriant verdant countryside. In Rota’s musical construction there are often delicate openings and themes that brighten an underlying mood imbued with melancholy. Indeed, the Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra is probably one of the works in which this transmutation, this shift of colours, finds its most effective expression.

In 1976 Nino Rota made a tour of Japan, conducting an orchestra formed for the occasion in a wide-ranging program of film music which, apart from his own most famous compositions, also included works by Ennio Morricone, Carlo Rustichelli and Riz Ortolani. For these concerts he composed an ad hoc piece that was intended as a kind of tribute to the host country, which he had visited for the first time only one year previously. Initially entitled Pensiero per Hiroshima/Thought for Hiroshima, it was subsequently and definitively given the more neutral title Guardando il Fujiyama/Looking at Fujiyama (1976). It is a short composition which initially uses harmonies and scales clearly inspired by the musical tradition of the East, leading to the exposition of a brief melodic unit with a decidedly dramatic tone, repeated until the end with a powerful emotive crescendo effect that suggests the tragic inspiration that generated the original title.

Concerto per corno e orchestra KV 412 di W. A. Mozart (1958-59)
Rota rarely composed music without a specific commission, but sometimes the commission could be particularly eccentric and even, one might say, self-imposed. This is true in the case of the arbitrary and very successful completion of a famous Concerto by Mozart (KV 412) for horn and orchestra>. When a very young and talented student (Sebastiano Panebianco) at the Bari Conservatory, which he directed, had to perform Mozart’s unfinished concerto as a test piece, he decided that it would be a good idea to complete the work so as to give the young man a chance to tackle a “real” soloist concerto. The result was this faithful imitation, which is surprisingly consistentent in pursuing the aim of completing the original piece with music of “Mozartian” freshness. The work, which is now published and available, allows the soloist to perform Mozart’s classic composition in a new version completed by the provision of the second movement, the original of which was lost. This episode highlights an important aspect of Rota’s personal and musical activity, his connection with Apulia and the city of Bari, where he directed the local Conservatory for over 25 years.

La Fiera di Bari/The Bari Fair (1963), an orchestral composition for a rather original combination of timbres (5 saxophones and 5 trombones in the orchestra) almost seems to set out to make fun of Gershwin’s rhapsodies and some of Bernstein’s musical comedy pieces, but after the first few bars it leads into a spacious melody typical of Rota’s style. One might also define this piece, like the imitation Mozart, as an exercise in style and/or music intended for a hypothetical screen. In the end, however, amid the playful references and quotations, here and there the unmistakable signature of Rota always emerges from the screen. Before and afterwards, Mozart. And this game of mirrors and constant reminders, so useful in music for films, becomes an exercise in skillful balancing when the film itself focuses on the theme of memory.

In the whole of Federico Fellini’s filmography, Amarcord (1973) is the most personal and intimate work of the Romagnol director. It presents powerful autobiographical elements in a sequence of fragments that build up a kind of self- portrait of his own poetics through memory. In this film the association between director and composer, which lasted over thirty years, produces a series of sound pastels which, together with their usual practice of mixing music typical of Rota with melodies that Fellini had used on film sets for years, treat and reprocess a number of other elements typical of the poetics of Fellini and Rota, so that they become mnemonic exercises, repetitive musical rhymes. Memorabilia, especially from childhood, such as the track of La fogaraccia which continues to echo in one’s head even after the music has ended, like a series of unstoppable musical Catherine wheels. An effect which, if we think about it, is also like the musical aftertaste that we may have experienced in our childhood when a band – any kind of band – went by. But what is most amazing, ultimately, is the charm and lightness of these “little pieces of music”, the easy way they flow, even though they are the result of a very skillful and complicated work of composition. Like all memories endowed with poetic substance, this is music suspended in time, and its historical references, its quotations, are secondary in comparison with the emotion that they arouse.

Disc 2

La Dolce Vita (1960), one of the great masterpieces of Italian cinema and perhaps the greatest of them all, could never have existed without Le Notti di Cabiria/Nights of Cabiria (1957). And without the music that Nino Rota composed for these two films, perhaps the greatness and universality of Fellini’s expressive power would not have been what history is beginning to indicate now, fifty years later. In the dramatic events of the guileless prostitute Cabiria, Fellini presents all the malfunctioning of Italian society after the war and of a poetics suspended in cruel compassion, taking as his central character a dramatic figure capable of navigating through the scenes that are juxtaposed in the course of the film. For each setting there is a powerful, sharply contrasted musical imprint, like the series of situations that make up the film. In this work Rota found inspiration for music with themes that accompanied him for many years afterwards, even outside the world of the cinema. The magician’s tragic piano waltz and the final march, so full of hope and future as to recall some South American revolutionary songs, link up with a continuity of inspiration evident only when one listens to these pieces without cuts, freed from the functional purposes for which they were composed.

Rota’s concertos for soloists originated, as is generally the case, as a result of requests from soloists who wanted to enlarge their repertoire. But in his case the variety of instruments to which these works are devoted is due primarily to his activity as director of the Conservatory, bringing him into contact with teachers of instruments that are not very common in the concerto repertoire, in this case leading to the creation of the Concerto per fagotto e orchestra/Concerto for Bassoon and Orchestra (1977). In the initial Toccata, the orchestra, treated with a texture that is both brilliant and transparent, brings out the particular qualities of timbre of the solo instrument. This is followed by a short lyrical Recitativo by way of introduction to the Andantino con variazioni, which constitutes the finale and the heart of the entire concerto. There are 6 variations (Waltz • Polka • Sicilian • Scherzo • Sarabande • Galop), which form an uninterrupted sequence. Each of them is used to bring out characteristics and peculiarities of the bassoon, making it engage in dialogue with different sections of the orchestra in each case. This use of variations is very common in concertos but Rota refines it in the extensive use of music that is constantly required in films, where it is often necessary to repeat a particular theme that serves as a Leitmotif throughout the whole story, adapting it to the most varied contexts.

The relationship between Nino Rota and the writer and film director Mario Soldati (1906–1999) was primarily a relationship of friendship which developed and led to artistic collaborations for films and television. However, the carefree musical theatre adventure that took the form of the idyll La Scuola di Guida/The Driving School remained in the shadows for nearly half a century. Only the serene foolhardiness of two old friends could have led them to accept the sudden last-minute commission to compose an operatic work to be included as an entertainment in the Festival dei Due Mondi in Spoleto in 1959, under the overall direction of Franco Zeffirelli. No sooner said than done! La Scuola di Guida: only two characters, unity of time and place, and a duration of just over ten minutes for the action. In the car Soldati brings together two losers, a man and a woman, who have excellent reasons for transforming the disaster of the driving lesson and the preservation of their own existence into a safe haven of affection. The bouncy musical score, cheekily emphasizing the events, aroused the enthusiasm of a demanding music lover, the writer Alberto Arbasino: “(...) this music, with its popular style and outrageous (and stupendous) simplicity (...) in addition to having a very particular quality and deliberately restricted aims, takes us back with poignant precision to a time that it is moving to reconsider: the first years of the war, the fashion of 1940 (...)”. Once he gets under way, Arbasino’s enthusiasm leads him to get stuck in a quagmire of quotations, ranging from Puccini to popular songs of the war years. In the end, however, Rota is always recognisable, because he was so good at this game that all this material becomes his own, stripped of any sense of reference or quotation, simply serving for a purpose. A lethal musical mechanism/machine supporting a dramatic story, and nothing else. Bruno Moretti’s orchestration conveys all this and emphasises it appropriately, but without ever losing control of a musical score whose intrinsic vitality might cause one to get carried away by the stream of suggestions and evocations that spring from every bar.

Castel del Monte ballata per corno e orchestra/Castel del Monte Ballad for Horn and Orchestra (1974) refers explicitly to one of the best-known monuments in Apulia, the great, mysterious castle built by the Emperor Frederick II in the 13th century. The castle is considered a historical and architectural enigma because it seems to have no explicit military purpose, and its form and function have made it the object of speculation and study in various disciplines. As a devotee of esoteric studies Rota was certainly not unaware of this aspect, but if we confine ourselves to the manuscript sources that are available we do not find any direct reference to Frederick’s castle. In fact, in one of them the original title appears as Ballata del cavaliere errante/Ballad of the Knight Errant, although by the time of the first performance, at the Lanciano festival in 1977, the knight errant had disappeared and the title/dedication had become established definitively as Castel del Monte. The work opens with the immediate exposition of the main theme, melancholy and dreamy, presented by the solo horn accompanied by solo harp, which is then taken up and varied by the oboe, here accompanied by the orchestra. After a more decisive reply from the horn there is a kind of cavalcade of soloists, which seems to journey through various landscapes and at some points appears to suggest the mood of the beat of a hunt followed by a dance with a vaguely ritual savour. This, the longest section of the composition, leads directly to the finale, where the main theme is taken up again by the oboe, which is joined by the solo horn and finally by the strings.

Francesco Lombardi
Translation Karel Clapshaw

Date 2013-Jun-25
Publisher