CD REVIEW – RESPIGHI : ROMAN TRILOGY
Sinfonia of London - John Wilson
Chandos CHSA 5261 (60:06)

Old friends from RFS meetings and more recent admirers of his charismatic conducting will welcome this release from John Wilson. It is his third album directing the superlative Sinfonia of London that he has re-formed with a hand-picked line-up of instrumental talent led by Andrew Haveron.

Ottorino Respighi was an Italian composer (1879-1936) whose three best known orchestral showpieces are brilliantly scored and brashly imaginative; and revelled in by conductors such as his friend Arturo Toscanini onwards.

Fountains of Rome (1914-16) depicts four of the city's fountains at a different time of day. The third is the famous Trevi at midday. The Pines of Rome (1923-24), arguably his most popular work, is a tribute to scenes around his country's capital, some contemporary and some recalling the glory of the Roman Empire. Nigel Simeone's informative notes remind us that it was composed at a time of turbulence in Italy, with thousands of Fascist troops entering the city in support of Benito Mussolini on 28 October 1922.

Festivals of Rome (1928) has four movements: 'Circuses', 'The Jubilee', 'The October Festival' and 'The Epiphany'. The least known work here but first on the disc, it employs even larger forces than its predecessors, including lots of percussion, an organ, four-hand piano and mandolin.

All is stunningly played and recorded at The Church of St Augustine, Kilburn, London in the renowned Chandos sound. Fine accounts of these works are not in short supply, but this need not fear comparison with any of them.

And if it is not to your liking, then there is still the prospect on this label of John's 'Eric Coates Orchestral Works' Volume 2.

Peter Burt 2020

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