Concerto for harp and orchestra
Concerto for bassoon and orchestra
Castel del Monte
Concerto for trombone and orchestra
Luisa Prandina (harp)
Paolo Carlini (bassoon)
Guido Corti (horn) & Andrea Conti (trombone)
I Virtuosi Italiani conducted by Marzio Conti
Reviewed by: Colin Anderson
Reviewed: May 2002
CD No: CHANDOS CHAN 9954
These four concertos by Italian Nino Rota (1911-1979) come as a welcome excursion into a lighter and less demanding musical dimension. Rota’s music is charming and carefree, and beautifully crafted. The neo-classical, crisp and clear structures that Rota uses are the basis for melodic writing that is elegant, wistful and witty. Orchestrations are refined and variegated, allowing the solo instruments to be heard with ease.
The Harp Concerto, written in 1947 and first conducted by Carlo Maria Giulini, is rhythmically vital, the harp enjoying a roulade of notes. The slow movement is sad, the harp reciting forlorn lines, a musing solo cello for company.
The Bassoon Concerto is a mischievous work, the bassoon masquerading as a jester; orchestral instruments attend with suitably droll comments. The languid melody that the Finale’s variations are based on is very attractive, the succeeding variants being in the form of a Waltz, Polka, Sarabande and so on.
The Ballad for horn, Castel del Monte, is initially very evocative and peaceful. The more scherzo-like material is equally suggestive and reminds of Rota’s success in writing film music. The Trombone Concerto is lively and concise in the outer movements; the slow movement is more personal. Throughout these works, Rota’s understanding of an instrument’s character and range is evident.
The performances are excellent especially from the soloists. Just occasionally the number of strings used sounds too few and they are a little scrappy. There is no doubt though as to the affection lavished on this very enjoyable music, which is complemented by a recording that is ideally close and intimate. Rota’s melodic linearity is the prime joy, and his harmonic and colourful delicacy is delightfully audible.