Ottorino Respighi – Il tramonto – Isabel Bayrakdarian, Orchestre symphonique de Laval, Alain Trudel (2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 01:07:18 minutes | 1,03 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: ATMA Classique | Booklet, Front cover | © ATMA Classique
Recorded: Église Sainte-Rose-de-Lima, Laval (Québec) Canada Mars / March 2015
Canadian star soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian is the featured soloist in this recording by the Orchestre symphonique de Laval—its first with current artistic director and principal conductor Alain Trudel. The album is devoted to orchestral works by Ottorino Respighi. Known for her sparkling stage presence and astonishing musicality, Bayrakdarian joins the orchestra for Respighi’s setting of the lyric poem Il tramonto (The Sunset).
The five pieces that comprise the suite Gli uccelli (The Birds) pay homage to the composers of the Baroque era who took pleasure in musically illustrating various aspects of life — birdsongs, in this case. Trittico Botticelliano (Botticelli Triptych) consists of three symphonic poems inspired by the three most celebrated canvases of the Italian painter Sandro Botticelli. As a composer and musicologist, Respighi was especially interested in early music, and particularly in Italian Renaissance and Baroque works. Antiche Danze ed Ari per liuto, his orchestral Suite No. 1, was inspired by the music of four Renaissance composers.
This beautifully programmed disc is in many ways let down by the work that to all intents and purposes forms its raison d’être, the 1914 ‘lyric poem’ Il tramonto for female voice and strings. A setting of Shelley’s ‘The Sunset’, it’s an exercise in post-Romantic morbidity that has links with the Italian Symbolist movement, which took Shelley as a source of inspiration. The booklet-notes evoke Tristan as a comparison for its night-obsessed lovers, though the syllabic vocal line, carefully following the contours of spoken Italian, reveals the deeper influence of Debussy’s Pelléas, while the finely wrought string-writing suggests that Respighi was familiar with Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht.
Notable interpreters on disc include Irmgard Seefried, Anne Sofie von Otter and Magdalena Kožená, and this new version, from the Canadian ATMA label, is not quite in the same league. Isabel Bayrakdarian’s declamatory way with the text impresses but the close recording catches a pulse in her tone and some curious moments of shrillness at the top. Well aware that if you push the piece too hard it becomes self-indulgent, Alain Trudel conducts with admirable restraint. The playing is clean and clear but the Laval orchestra’s very bright string sound sits at times uneasily with a work that trades primarily in crepuscular half-tones.
This is a shame, because the rest of the disc is rather fine. Trudel’s no-nonsense way with Respighi speaks volumes in the first set of Ancient Airs and Dances, which are done with plenty of wit and elegance. The bright orchestral sound comes into its own in Trittico Botticelliano, where the textures are nicely clear and sensuous. Best of all, though, is Gli uccelli, where the playing is excellent, the instrumental solos particularly graceful and poised. It’s very enjoyable, provided Il tramonto is not your main focus of interest: if that if the case, however, then Irmgard Seefried and the Lucerne Festival Strings under Rudolf Baumgartner remain unsurpassed.–Tim Ashley (gramophone.co.uk)
Ottorino Respighi (1879-1936)
Gli uccelli (The Birds), P. 154
1 | I. Preludio 00:02:42
2 | II. La colomba 00:04:41
3 | III. La gallina 00:02:53
4 | IV. L’usignuolo 00:04:23
5 | V. Il cucu 00:04:15
Il tramonto, P. 101
6 | Il tramonto, P. 101 00:15:37
Trittico Botticelliano, P. 151
7 | I. La Primavera (Spring) 00:05:31
8 | II. L’adorazione dei Magi (The Adoration of the Magi) 00:08:36
9 | III. La nascita di Venere (The Birth of Venus) 00:04:51
Antiche danze ed arie, Suite No. 1, P. 109
10 | I. Balletto detto Il Conte Orlando 00:02:20
11 | II. Gagliarda 00:03:29
12 | III. Villanella 00:04:33
13 | IV. Passo mezzo e Mascherada 00:03:27
Orchestre symphonique de Laval
Alain Trudel, conductor
Isabel Bayrakdarian, soprano