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Giovanni Sgambati: Symphony No. 1; Cola di Rienzo Overture / Francesco La Vecchia

Album Summary

>Sgambati, Giovanni : Cola di Rienzo Overture
>Sgambati, Giovanni : Symphony no 1 in D major, Op. 16, SG 11
Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Sgambati was one of the most important figures in the renaissance of Italian music that began during the second half of the 19th century. This first of two discs blends Italian lyricism with German rigor. Symphony No. 1 was admired by Grieg and Saint-Saëns and a favorite of Toscanini.

Suitably solemn and dramatic, the overture is well structured and fits its subject matter well... The orchestration of the scherzo of the five-movement symphony is particularly impressive, showing Wagnerian influence but transcending it through Sgambati's own emotional imprint. The finale, which sums up the work both structurally (using techniques of elaboration and variation) and emotionally (with intensity plus warmth), is an effective capstone to a piece that fits firmly into the Romantic era but clearly takes its own approach to the music of its time. Francesco La Vecchia... once again shows himself here to be a committed and sensitive interpreter of music that has more to say than its comparative obscurity would indicate.

Musical Toronto
A fantastic performance by the 10-year-old Orchestra Sinfonica di Roma under Francesco La Vecchi brings this harmonically rich, thematically astute, expansive music to brilliant life.

Essentially every country has its share of neglected composers whose music "sounds" like mid-century Romanticism because that was when they were composing their music. Sgambati's symphony falls into this fray but is another of the unjustly forgotten fine essays in symphonic form. Certainly its engaging melodic ideas and brilliant orchestration is cause enough for its resuscitation. The performances here of the Rome orchestra under La Vecchia are quite superb capturing the joy of discovery for these pieces and providing committed performances. Easily recommended for those looking for great Romantic music of the 19th century.

American Record Guide, May/June 2013
His Symphony 1 (1882) may be the first substantial symphony by an Italian composer since Cherubini. I begins with transparent woodwind Sonorities. II with an impressively developed arch of melody, continued in a pizzicato variation with some beautiful flute lines wound around it. The scherzo has a notably fine trio, enhanced by its depth of string writing. IV, reminiscent of Mendelssohn's Italian Symphony in its wistful emotion. The entire movement has about it a guarded mystery. In the final rondo, the initially spirited music comes to a stop, and a more soulful element appears, worked up into a martial vein. The momentum resumes for a bravura finale. Both performances and interpretations are competent and sympathetic. Once again, Maestro LaVecchia and his forces rate praise for their championing of Italy's rich symphonic tradition.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Auditorium di via Conciliazione, Rome.


Listen to the Serenata
Before the general public, very little Italian orchestral music from the high Romantic period is known, at least in the period between Clementi and Martucci. What the world knows are the great Italian operas of the era. When I first heard the delightful Piano Concerto by Sgambati on the ASV CD, I thought this might be a composer worth looking into. By no means is this new release unwelcome, but on the other hand, there is virtually no music here that makes it an absolute must.

The Cola di Rienzo Overture is duplicated from the ASV disk. It is well-played and the conducting and recording are only slightly better on ASV. It is a varied work, in terms of its moods, and the Liszt/Wagner influence, with its Brahmsian structure, is apparent. However, it is clear to me (not to the writer of the notes) that Sgambati must have heard Tchaikovsky, because his melodies perhaps reflect the richness of a Russian inspiration.

The same canít be said about the symphony, although it is a pleasurable work, with one exception. The Serenata is an absolute joy, and one substantial enough that it makes this movement unforgettable. It nearly approaches a barcarolle in its lovely flow. Certainly, this is the highlight of this symphony. Whether this Serenata is justification for the purchase of this CD must be the listenerís call.

Submitted on 07/19/13 by Andy F. 
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Works Details

>Sgambati, Giovanni : Cola di Rienzo Overture
  • Conductor: Francesco Vecchia
  • Ensemble: Orchestra Sinfonica di Roma
  • Notes: Auditorium di via Conciliazione, Rome (10/16/2011-10/17/2011)
  • Running Time: 18 min. 26 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Form: Concerto
  • Written: 1866

>Sgambati, Giovanni : Symphony no 1 in D major, Op. 16, SG 11
  • Conductor: Francesco Vecchia
  • Ensemble: Orchestra Sinfonica di Roma
  • Notes: Auditorium di via Conciliazione, Rome (12/04/2011-12/05/2011)
  • Running Time: 42 min. 13 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 1880-1881