Nino Rota Orchestral Works Vol 5

Category Orchestral Music

Nino Rota Orchestral Works Vol 5

Disc 1

La strada – Complete Ballet* (1966-1978)
Musiche per il balletto in 1 atto e 12 quadri
Soggetto di Federico Fellini e Tullio Pinelli
Coreografia di Mario Pistoni

I. Strada costiera
  1. Andante largo - Molto tranquillo (3:42)

II. Strada di campagna
  1. Andantino Sostenuto e Stanco (2:40)
  2. Allegretto tranquillo (1:32)
  3. Lento (2:21)
III. Trattoria di campagna
  1. Allegro (0:57)
  2. Ritmo Moderato (1:43)
  3. Lento - Allegro Moderato (1:01)
  4. Allegro (1:24)
  5. Juke Box: Ritmo Animato (2:07)
  6. Meno (Tempo I) (2:31)
IV. Siparietto - Viottolo di campagna
  1. Andante Mesto (2:32)
V. Sera - Piazza affollata di paese in festa
  1. Largo Maestoso (4:09)
  2. (Senza Indicazione di Tempo) 3:24
VI. Periferia di un paese
  1. Allegretto Molto Calmo (1:19)
  2. Allegro (2:35)
  3. Allegro Alla Marcia (2:40)
  4. Allegro Moderato, Alla Marcia (4:43)
  5. Tempo di Valzer Lento, Sognante (3:37)
VII. Muro di cinta di un convento - Cappelletta
  1. Allegretto Vivace (1:44)
  2. Molto Mosso, Violento (1:31)
  3. Andante Sostenuto (9:11)
VIII. Giorno Dopo, Stessa Scena
  1. Allegretto Calmo, Ma Con Spirito (4:49)
IX. Strada di campagna
  1. Mosso, Inquieto (2:58)
X. Periferia di un paese, inverno
  1. Lento Non Troppo (2:42)
XI. Muretto diroccato - Paesaggio invernale
  1. Andante Molto Calmo (3:20)
XII Spiaggia, trattoria, poche case
  1. Allegretto Vivace (Tempo I) (4:57)

Cinzel-voce [26]
Nicolai Freiherr von Dellingshausen, violino

Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi
Giuseppe Grazioli-Direttore

Disc 2

Sinfonia sopra una canzone d’amore (1972)
  1. Allegro (8:06)
  2. Allegro Vivace (4:43)
  3. Andante Sostenuto (8:54)
  4. Allegro Impetuoso (6:26)

Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi
Giuseppe Grazioli-Direttore

Lo spiritismo nella vecchia casa
6 variazioni e 3 suggestioni per clarinetto solo (1950)
Musiche di scena per il dramma di Ugo Betti Spiritismo nell’antica casa
  1. Variazione I. (Senza Indicazione di Tempo) (1:18)
  2. Variazione II. (Senza Indicazione di Tempo) (1:18)
  3. Variazione III. Sostenuto (1:44)
  4. Variazione IV. Allegretto (1:17)
  5. Variazione V. Andantino (1:23)
  6. Variazione VI. Allegro Vivace (0:52)
  7. Suggestione I. Andante Ansioso (1:28)
  8. Suggestione II. Andante Rubato (1:16)
  9. Suggestione III. Lento, Espressivo, Liberamente (1:01)

Raffaella Ciapponi-Clarinetto

Il Casanova di Federico Fellini - Suite sinfonica* (1976)
Orchestrazione di Bruno Moretti
  1. O Venezia, Venaga, Venusia. Andantino (4:09)
  2. L’uccello Magico. Tempo di Valzer (2:38)
  3. Intermezzo Della Mantide Religiosa. Andantino (4:03 )
  4. The Great Mouna. Tranquillo (2:22)
  5. Il Duca di Württenberg. Allegro Giusto (4:24)
  6. La Poupée Automate. Andante (3:42)

Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi
Giuseppe Grazioli-Direttore

Prima registrazione mondiale/World Premiere Recording*

Casa Dicografica/Record Label: Decca

CD 1: Universal Music Publishing Ricordi
CD 2: 1-4 Universal Music Publishing Ricordi
5-13 Schott Music
14-19 Sugar Music

Note alla discografia/Liner Notes

Never previously had music critics made such excessive use of descriptions employing epithets such as naivety, facileness, ingenuousness, lightness, simplicity and sentimentalism as in their attempts to define the unsuspected complexity of Nino Rota's music and, not infrequently, to stigmatise his presumed uneasy conscience. For Rota, however, the term "light music" referred only "to the light-hearted spirit of the listener, not to the person who wrote it. [...] If some critics turn up their noses when it comes to talking about Nino Rota as a composer of symphonies and operas, labelling me as a 'second-rate filmmaker'," the Milanese composer declared in his last interview (which only his death shortly afterwards prevented the respectful journalist Guido Vergani from publishing in Playboy monthly), "it does not embarrass me. Whether it is music for films or other music, I always apply the same commitment. It is only the technical field in which I operate that differs." Among the major Italian music critics who were contemporaries of Rota, Fedele d'Amico was, perhaps, the only one (or, rather, the greatest one), who, apart from his dislike of applying labels, set about defending Rota despite crossfire from his colleagues (some more engagés, others less). In fact, when he wrote about La visita meravigliosa (an opera written in 1970, like Luciano Berio's Opera), he took the opportunity to sweep away the simplistic reductionism mentioned earlier and sought to demonstrate how the non-modernity of Rota's music was, in fact, complementary to the language of contemporary highbrow music, from which it differs, he suggested, "not, as so many people believe, in its faithfulness to unequivocal tonality, symmetry or other features commonly considered as 'out', but through its acceptance of those elements as belonging to it, rather than putting them in inverted commas like quotations or 'objects'", assimilating a range of earlier stylistic features in order to regenerate them instead of abstracting them from history as the "other" composers did, in the perspective of a non-participatory or estranging objectification. In his analysis, D'Amico identified the very essence of Rota's poetics in the trumpet played by the angel shot down by the Reverend Hilyer (but we might also mention here the ones played by Gelsomina in La strada and by the old clown [Polidor] in the nightclub scene in La dolce vita); an essence not recognised or understood by the priests of the "music of today" because of evident and equally unmodern limitations, such as an unwillingness to recognise in contemporary human beings — on behalf of whose affliction and renewal they presumed to speak the "spontaneity" characteristic of Rota's music. Yet D'Amico was also not slow to recognise the limitations of "Rota's trumpet", one of which seemed to be the symptomatic success of his "alarming activity in the film world", due not so much to the "catchiness" of his attractive themes as to his formidable ability to improvise, much appreciated and encouraged by his customers (in other words, by film directors) because it was easily adaptable to their own aims and to a psychology of masses well studied and suitably manipulated by the entertainment industry's production system. Nevertheless, D'Amico's pessimistic forecast that "he [Rota] will not find a place in 'history', or at most will be remembered parenthetically, as a pleasant holiday from history" seems to have been proved wrong — among other things, by this collection of recordings of Rota's music, which is not restricted to his most famous soundtracks; and an allergy to the new media restrained D'Amico from mentioning Rota's flirtations with radio and television, although it is this part of his legacy that has been most studied, having been accepted — finally — as the most up-to-date and "modern" part of his work by the recent musicological studies devoted to him and by others on intermediality.

In this connection, after the threefold declension — on radio, stage and television — of the opera I due timidi (1950/1952/1954), the ballet La strada (1966). derived from the screenplay by Federico Fellini and Tullio Pinelli of the award-winning film with the same title (1954), represents a further and doubly emblematic case of "remediation". On the one hand, at a time when people were questioning whether the medium of films could save, or rather reprieve, the theatre, Rota caught everyone wrong-footed by presenting a ballet which, for the first time, stemmed from a film that had been an international success (rather than vice versa). On the other hand, recognising the success that the ballet had achieved at the Teatro alla Scala, where it remained on the bill for three consecutive seasons, in 1968 the management of Radiotelevisione Italiana in Viale Mazzini submitted an entry in the new category of "Musical works for television" for the twentieth Prix Italia (an international competition that the organisation had won previously in 1959 with Bacchelli and Rota's La notte di un nevrastenico), presenting a television adaptation of Rota's ballet which was recorded in the television studios in Turin. Even though the ultimate winner was Krzysztof Penderecki's Dies irae (produced by the German broadcasting company ZDF), this was, nevertheless, the first successful Italian experiment in "tele-ballet", introducing to a larger audience the intense gestural expressiveness of Carla Fracci (Gelsomina), Aldo Santambrogio (Zampanò) and Mario Pistoni (Il Matto), who was also the choreographer of La strada. The present recording is the first to offer the complete final version of this ballet, which had its theatre premiere at La Scala on 2 September 1966. On that occasion Rota's score specified a band on stage (marching in the procession in scene 5), as well as a combo and a woman's voice offstage: in the story, the sound of the combo comes from a jukebox in full view in scene 3, while the woman's voice – singing the tune that Gelsomina learned from ll Matto's violin playing – is that of a girl who is questioned in the final scene by Zamapanò because he has a gloomy foreboding and who informs the itinerant strongman of the departure of his ex-companion on the road. The version prepared in 1978 for the performance of La strada at the Teatro di San Carlo in Naples was a good half hour longer than the previous one as a result of the addition of a newly composed pas de deux, performed by Gelsomina and an acrobat, and another appearance of the band, playing the music of the well-known circus march from 8 1/2, both inserted in scene 6, and, above all, by the expansion, in the preceding scene, of the open-air party in honour of the wedding of a young working-class couple, during which Gelsomina and Zampanò exhibit their juggling routine while the onlookers indulge in a frenzied bajon.

Rota exhumed the themes of the Viaggio a Donnafugata and Tancredi e Angelica in the soundtrack of II gattopardo (1963) from the sketches for a symphony that he had jotted down in the mid 1940s. However, only a few years after the release of the film, in response to pressure from Francesco Siciliani, Rota decided to complete his Sinfonia sopra una canzone d'amore, which he conducted in person in the RAI Auditorium in Foro Italico in Rome (17 June 1972). The "song" to which Rota refers in the title and which provides the basis of the initial Allegro of the symphony was composed in 1943 for Renato Castellani's film La donna della montagna (The Mountain Woman) and was used again five years later, with the title Take the Sun, in Henry Cass's film The Glass Mountain, while in the subsequent Scherzo and the slow movement Rota introduced the above mentioned themes from Luchino Visconti's film. With regard to this carefree reuse of material from earlier periods and from various sources for the formal construction of the four movements of the Sinfonia and for the shaping of the first theme – which one might think had flowed from Smetana's Vltava – one cannot help acknowledging Rota's courage in not stooping to compromises with the Zeitgeist of the time or with himself, i.e., in a self-referring perspective, with one's "love" for what one is and what one has been. As Rota declared in an interview with Leonardo Pinzauti in 1971, "The cinema has not changed my life in any way. Nor do I consider it a 'secondary activity', because, in fact, my own psychological and musical development have benefited from it."

Like Gelsomina, the main character in the drama Spiritismo nell'antica casa (Spirit-raising in the Old House, 1946) suffers from a mental derangement that leads her to madness. As music for this play by Ugo Betti, first performed in a production directed by Orazio Costa at the Piccolo Teatro della Citta di Roma (13 April 1950), Rota externalised the obsession of the hypersensitive Laura (Rossetta Falk), duped by the fraudulent medium Ruggero (Tina Buazzetti), by writing a series of variations — the sixth of which is Paganini-like — for clarinet. Apart from her suicidal fate (similar to that of Bontempetti's equally "ingenuous" Minnie), the character of Laura foreshadows that of Fellini's Giulietta degli spiriti (Juliet of the Spirits, with Masina once again) and is also tragically reminiscent of Maria, the central character in Eduardo De Filippo's contemporary comedy Questi fantasmi!

Most of the thematic reminiscences in the music for the film Il Casanova di Federico Fellini (Fellini's Casanova, 1976) are sustained by two hypnotic intervals of a descending fifth which symbolise nostalgia for the distant Venice (0 Venezia, Venaga, Venusia), longed for by the exiled libertine, and which, in conjunction with melancholy carillon themes, envelop the sequences of Fellini's film like a piece of tulle. Some are recalled in Rota's Suite for piano (recently published by Schott and here orchestrated by Bruno Moretti), which was derived from the soundtrack, such as the first fleeting glimpse of the "Grande Mauna", a compatriot of the libertine, and the scene set in the court of the mad Duke of Wurttemberg (a Wunderkammer, scenically like Bosch and Stravinskyan in terms of sound), where Casanova falls in love with the mechanical doll, his double, or, one might say, the other and less famished face of love, with respect to the one sung by the effeminate Marquis Dubois in the Intermezzo and the mechanical beating of the wings of the magic bird (a metaphor for the vigorous thrusts of Casanova's loins). However, recognition must be given to the resources of memory of the "lion tamer" Fellini for having entangled Rota's imagination with his own during the making of Casanova. As the film director recalled twenty-four years later, it was in 1957 when, at the festive climax of a party in Rome (while Fellini was probably in a corner mentally reviewing the sequence in which the main character in Le notti di Cabiria (Nights of Cabiria) is made to fall into a trance by a magician), someone set the record player in motion and Fellini and the other hushed guests listened in astonishment to the first of Erik Satie's Morceaux en forme de poire, which suggested to him "a chilly, sparkling vision of magical creatures reduced to puppets". It was as a result of the resurgence in his mind of the memory of that music that he had heard by chance that in the post-production stage of the dejeuner at the home of Madame d'Urfé in Casanova, Fellini urged Rota to recreate the mood of that "Satiesque" music and the "inimitable Nino immediately played a very lovely motif on the piano, one that enchants, that induces forgetfulness, that conveys a feeling of eternal peace, that torments you and comforts you". In 1977 Nino Rota was awarded the David di Donatello Prize for "Best Musician" for the soundtrack of Il Casanova.

Alessandro Turbo
Translation: Karel Clapshaw

Date 17 Mar 2017