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Casella: Symphony No 3, Elegia Eroica / La Vecchia, Rome SO

Album Summary

>Casella, Alfredo : Symphony no 3, Op. 63
>Casella, Alfredo : Elegia eroica, Op. 29
Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

The revelatory Naxos Casella series continues with two powerful works that grew from the tragedy of two World Wars. Searingly dissonant and 'profoundly human', the Elegia eroica ('Heroic Elegy') is Casella's memorial to Italian soldiers killed in World War I. His Third Symphony, a commission for the fiftieth birthday of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, assimilates the influences and experiences of a lifetime into an exhilaratingly melodic, emotionally wide-ranging and truly organic whole. This third disc in the series completes the world première recording of all three Casella symphonies.

American Record Guide
The orchestra plays very well, and the sonics are very good... Casella was undoubtedly a very up-to-date composer in the first two decades of the 20th Century.

La Vecchia's Rome performance is pretty good as far as it goes...

The New Zealand Herald
There is a real symphonic argument pursued over its four movements and, from La Vecchia's forceful baton work, one imagines him as a man who enjoys a lively discussion over chianti.

Individual touches include an Andante molto moderato that, despite some cool woodwind colorings, is Italianate in its lyricism, and a Scherzo as sardonic as Shostakovich at his most barbed.

The disc is completed with Casella's 1916 Elegia eroic... a shattering score, balancing tender lament with a fury not afraid of shrillness to make its point.

The Romantic era is not the only musical period in which significant rediscovery is in progress. The so-called "modern" era (say, from Mahler onward) has become far more readily accepted in concert performances and recordings, with the result that there is increasing interest in offering some works outside what could be called the "modern mainstream." The symphonies of Alfredo Casella (1883 - 1947) are examples, and Naxos has now made all three of them available - the first "Casella cycle" ever recorded. The final symphony, written on the eve of World War II in 1939-40, was composed for the 50th anniversary of the Chicago Symphony and requires considerable orchestral virtuosity. Structured in the traditional four movements and running the traditional length of a Romantic-era symphony (about 45 minutes), Casella's Third is a throwback in some ways, its melodic and harmonic worlds largely harking back to the 19th century. It is also a work of considerable emotional scope - again, in line with symphonies of the previous century. The symphony is very well-wrought, and it certainly contains elements showing that Casella was not unaware of 20th-century musical developments.

It would be overstating to say that this is a great work, but it is an impressive one, and the emotional content of the Andante molto moderato, quasi adagio slow movement is particularly affecting. Francesco La Vecchia conducts the symphony with considerable empathy, and the Orchestra Sinfonica di Roma plays it very well. The ensemble also does a fine job with the extended lament from 1916, Elegia eroica, which Casella said was written in memory of a soldier killed in war - this is distinctly a work of World War I. The single soldier referred to by Casella is intended to stand for all Italian soldiers who had already died in the "Great War," and the piece is a suitable lament, conveying strong emotions through well-controlled orchestration and a pervasive sense of solemnity.

MusicWeb International
To my mind one of the most interesting and successful current Naxos series is that devoted to the orchestral music of Alfredo Casella. The current release is the fourth and contains Casella's third and last symphony. Suffice to say all of the excellent values of performance and engineering/production of the first three volumes are duplicated here so admirers need not hesitate.

Classical Candor
The program ends with Casella's Elegia eroica ("Heroic Elegy"), Op. 29, from 1916. He wrote it in memory of a soldier fallen in battle in the First World War. It is properly somber, almost to the point of grimness. At once intimate and solemn, it is a kind of funeral dirge for the lost soldier, turning unexpectedly into a lullaby at the end. I found it a more effective work than his Third Symphony for its more passionate tone and its more concise expression. Under La Vecchia, it is a powerful and profound musical experience.

Recorded in Rome in 2008 (Third Symphony) and 2010 (Elegia), the sound is typical of the work Naxos usually produce - very clean, very competent...


Casella Sinfonia (Symphony No. 3) / Elegia eroica Naxos 8.572415
With this CD, the Naxos company continues its praiseworthy exploration of composers either long-forgotten or unjustly neglected. Those who have purchased Casella's First and Second Symphonies in this series may be jolted by the seemingly abrupt change in his compositional style that occurred between his second and third symphonies. The latter, as well as his "Elegia eroica" are aptly described thus by Naxos: "[These] two powerful works grew from the tragedy of two World Wars. Searingly dissonant and 'profoundly human', the Elegia eroica (Heroic Elegy) [Op. 29, composed in 1916] is Casella's memorial to Italian soldiers killed in World War I. His Third Symphony [Op. 63, composed 1939-1940] ... assimilates the influences and experiences of a lifetime into an exhilaratingly melodic, emotionally wide-ranging and truly organic whole." Since I'm a dyed-in-the-wool lover of Romantic-era music, these works are too modern and too dissonant for my taste, but this should certainly not deter either devotees of Casella's music or those who like post-Romantic works. The Rome Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Francesco La Vecchia, performs splendidly and the recording quality is excellent. Ted Wilks
Submitted on 07/08/11 by Ted Wilks 
Important 20th Century Symphonist
In the first half of the 20th century Alfredo Casella, along with Gian-Francesco Malipiero, was pivotal in reviving the Italian orchestral tradition, specifically its symphonic component. In a recent conversation, James McHard, eminent musicologist and author of the engrossing, thought provoking survey, “The Future of Modern Music” observed that “Casella was the penultimate neo-classicist. His influences can be traced back to Mahler and even ultimately back to Mozart, and even earlier. Casella derives every ounce of power out of his magnificent classical structures. This is vividly communicated in his unjustly neglected 3rd symphony of 1939.” Now collectors can savor this masterwork in a superb new Naxos release. Conductor, Francesco La Vecchia once again leads the Rome Symphony Orchestra as he did with previous volumes. Conception and realization are topnotch. Engineering is transparent and dynamic. Packaging and liner notes are of the highest caliber. As a bonus the searing Elegia Eroica of 1916 tops off the latest installment in this important series.
Submitted on 09/14/11 by Allen Cohen 
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Works Details

>Casella, Alfredo : Symphony no 3, Op. 63
  • Conductor: Francesco Vecchia
  • Ensemble: Rome Symphony Orchestra
  • Running Time: 45 min. 37 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: 1939-1940

>Casella, Alfredo : Elegia eroica, Op. 29
  • Conductor: Francesco Vecchia
  • Ensemble: Rome Symphony Orchestra
  • Notes: Auditorium Conciliazione, Rome (10/24/2010-10/25/2010)
  • Running Time: 16 min. 31 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: 1916