As a reader, words that paint pictures in my mind appeal to me. I value the same aspect in music. Not all music is meant to be depictive and each type has a place in what we like. However, I will be highlighting a selection of music available at the library which create images in my mind. I welcome your input as I proceed through this journey into the TSCPL collection of music.
Ottorino Respighi (1879-1936) is a popular composer and is a name that is typically listed amongst the well-recognized, descriptive composers as many of his works would fall into the category of symphonic tone-poem.
Probably his best known work is the Roman trilogy: Fountains of Rome, Festivals of Rome and Pines of Rome. The library collection contains Pini de Roma (Pines of Rome) on the CD The Stuttgart Recordings III The Celibicache Edition (EA STRAU-R DJ C90-1). Also included on this CD are works by Richard Strauss which we will return to in a later posting.
The four sections of Pines of Rome are: Pines of the Villa Borghese, Pines near a catacomb, Pines of the Janiculum, and Pines of the Appian Way. Each paints a completely different picture.
The Pines of the Villa Borghese depicts children playing among the trees on the estate of the Borgia family. You can hear the toys of the children making noise and imagine the sight of children chasing each other around the trees faster and faster until they collapse.
The Pines near a catacomb are dark and somber. I imagine a night-time under the trees. The stones and the trees give off a feeling of antiquity that is solid and cold in a deep and permanent manner.
The Pines of the Janiculum are in a forest full of the sounds of nature. It is peaceful and full of beautiful melodies. The most memorable aspect of this picture is the sound of a nightingale singing in the trees. A real recording of a nightingale is used to evoke an authentic feeling.
The Pines of the Appian Way is my favorite of the four. Respighi walks you down the Appian Way in the early morning. You feel the stones under your feet and you are carried back in time to the glory of Rome. The sun rises over a hill and gleams off of the armor of the Roman Legions marching toward you. You feel the solid pounding of their feet as they march and hear the horns heralding their victorious return.
This recording was made at a live performance so there is some audience noise, which may be distracting to some people. An added bonus is an additional disc which contains a rehearsal of Pines near a catacomb from the Pines of Rome. While it may have interest to some, the conductor is working with a German orchestra so he speaks only in German. He spends the majority of the eleven minutes working on getting the coloring just right so that the balance of each instrument is exactly as he wants it and the entrances are in the exact location he wants. For example: he wants the violins to be just as dark as the violas in tone quality. This is fairly soft and is probably of limited interest.
If you are not familiar with orchestral music or with this composer and his works; I highly recommend this cd as an excellent introduction to both classical music and to music that paints pictures. Also, The Pines of Rome was used as a soundtrack in the movie, “Fantasia 2000” to accompany the whales as they frolic; which provides another medium to enjoy this music.