This is the first CD Concerto dedicates to the great, internationally renowned, Italian composer, Ottorino Respighi (Bologna, 9th July 1879 – Rome, 18th April 1936).
The String Quartet (Quartetto Dorico) was started and finished within 1924, the same year the composer was nominated Director of the Conservatorio di Santa Cecilia.
Composed in one single movement, the work is built around a single theme which the string quartet introduces in unison. Within the movement, the traditional, four sections of a quartet can be discerned – Introduction, Scherzo, Adagio, Finale – in each, the theme is developed taking full advantage of the resources offered by counterpoint: from the choral of the Introduction, to the concluding fugato in the Scherzo through to the passacaglia in the Finale. Respighi’s perfect quartet scripture certainly owes a lot to his experience as violist.
Even if the date in which the Sonata was begun is uncertain, we do know when it was completed: August 1917; in fact the composer wrote to his wife, his former pupil Elsa Olivieri Sangiacomo: “I have finished the Sonata for violin and piano and I am very pleased with it “.
The piece is articulated in three tempos: 1. Moderato; 2. Andante espressivo; 3. Passacaglia: Allegro moderato ma energico. Following the first movement in classic sonata form with two themes, the first in the tonic, and the second in the relative major, a slow triple tempo opens with two outstanding passages which unwind in a singing style and with delicacy, in contrast to the agitated central section. But it is the concluding Passacaglia that stands out, shining above the preceding sections thanks to a rhythmic evolution, which “echoes” the Russian maestros of the end of the 19th century to whom Respighi was often attracted.
The CD is completed by the Six Pieces for Violin and Piano composed between 1901 and 1905. Being, for the most part, ‘adaptations’ of works originally intended for other instruments, these pieces show their experimental nature in their origin. For example the Aria, the first to appear, was composed in Saint Petersburg, where Respighi kept company with Rimskij Korsakov – and was originally a piece written for strings and organ, while the Leggenda and the Berceuse were originally pieces for violin and orchestra and for string ensemble, respectively, and dated at 1902, when the composer was studying with Reger in Berlin. Melodia, also from 1902, is the only piece which right from the beginning was intended for violin and piano. Where the Valse caressante and the Serenata (1904-1905) are concerned, the first relates to a work for piano and the second to a number from the opera Re Enzo.
Artwork: Marzio Tamer, Le Grandi cupole verdi, 2009, dry brush and watercolour