Orchestre philharmonique royal de Liège; Neschling, John
With the present album, the Orchestre Philharmonique Royal de Liège and John Neschling bring us the sixth and last instalment in a series that has been called ‘the finest-ever survey of the composer’s orchestral output undertaken by a single conductor’ (BBC Music Magazine). The immense popularity of the Roman Trilogy has had the effect of obscuring many parts of Respighi’s oeuvre, including arrangements of pieces from the Renaissance and Baroque periods. These arrangements, a genuine declaration of love for this music, were less an attempt at musicological reconstruction than ‘free transcriptions for orchestra’ as the composer described them. The four suites on this album, Gli Uccelli (The Birds) and the three entitled Ancient Dances and Airs, bear witness to this art. Gli Uccelli consists of five pieces originally written for harpsichord or lute which, as the title suggests, evoke birds set in colourful soundscapes. The Ancient Dances and Airs are suites each made of four pieces for lute or guitar from the Italian and French repertoire of the late 16th and early 17th centuries adorned with new orchestral colours. The success of these suites owes much to their orchestration: subtle and sober with timbres of rare sophistication. A refined treat from the Italian master of orchestration.