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Trit­tico Bot­ti­cel­liano; Il tra­monto; Ve­trate di chiesa

Anna Ca­te­rina An­tonacci (so­prano); Orchestre Phil­har­monique Royal de Liège/john Neschling

BIS BIS-2250 (hy­brid CD/SACD)

66:26 mins

John Neschling’s Re­spighi se­ries has grad­u­ally been de­vel­op­ing into the finestever sur­vey of the com­poser’s or­ches­tral out­put un­der­taken by a sin­gle con­duc­tor. This is vol­ume five, and it is ev­ery bit as de­sir­able as its pre­de­ces­sors.

Cru­cially, Neschling doesn’t over-drama­tise Re­spighi’s mu­sic. ‘San Michele Ar­can­gelo’, the sec­ond move­ment of Ve­trate di chiesa (Church Win­dows), is ex­cit­ing with­out be­ing sledge­ham­mered into sub­mis­sion, en­abling a full savour­ing of the piece’s typ­i­cally var­ie­gated or­ches­tra­tion. ‘Il mat­tutino di Santa Chiara’, f lu­idly paced and laced with evoca­tive wind so­los, high­lights Neschling’s gift for cre­at­ing se­duc­tive or­ches­tral bal­ances. Even the block­bust­ing ‘San Gre­go­rio Magno’ con­clu­sion re­tains trans­parency, the sub­tle tex­tures of the ce­leste reg­is­ter­ing just as tan­gi­bly as the more pro­tru­sive or­gan.

In the Trit­tico Bot­ti­cel­liano, ‘La Pri­mav­era’ is blithe and bouncy, the en­sem­ble crisp with­out seem­ing over-reg­i­mented. There’s more be­guil­ing wood­wind solo­ing in ‘L’ado­razione dei Magi’, and both there and in ‘La nascita di Venere’ Neschling mines sug­ges­tive veins of emo­tion in mu­sic too of­ten pre­sented as merely col­oris­tic.

So­prano Anna Ca­te­rina An­tonacci brings her ex­ten­sive op­er­atic ex­pe­ri­ence to bear on

Il tra­monto, Re­spighi’s 16-minute set­ting of a poem by Shel­ley.

Her steady, ap­peal­ing tone and in­tel­li­gent word-point­ing give con­sid­er­able plea­sure, though it’s in­ter­est­ing to note how much more dis­tinc­tive mu­si­cally the two or­ches­tral pieces seem by com­par­i­son (they both come from over a decade later).

The recorded sound is ex­cel­lent, and es­pe­cially en­joy­able in SACD for­mat. If you are fol­low­ing Neschling’s ex­cel­lent se­ries, don’t hes­i­tate to buy this lat­est in­stal­ment. Terry Blain PER­FOR­MANCE ★★★★ RECORD­ING ★★★★★

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