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ClassicsOnline Home » RESPIGHI: Astuzie de Columbina (Le) / La pentola magica
"highly recommended for those after late romantic rarities of quality and charm"
Respighi's Leonidov Ballet Trilogy
boutique fantasque, on themes by Rossini, a
ballet commissioned in 1919 by Sergey Dyagilev, was to become Ottorino
Respighi's most successful work in this genre. It also initiated a series of
ballet-pastiches by Respighi and other composers, including music of charm and
wit of which Stravinsky's Pulcinella and La baiser de la fée and Britten's
Soirées and Matinées musicales are excellent examples.
Ileana Leonidov Company was established in Italy, its name that of the prima
ballerina, an extremely beautiful but not too talented Russian dancer, weare
told. Their impresario, Dr. Aldo Molinari, commissioned three scores from
Respighi, performed for the first time in November, 1920, at the Teatro
Costanzi in Rome. The music was to be pastiche, in the manner of La boutique
fantasque, allowing the composer to display his remarkable skill in
instrumentation with material from various periods and countries and in various
styles. Respighi described his task as just a favour for Mme Leonidov and
three ballet scores commissioned tor the Leonidov Company, here recorded for
the first time, are of more than historical interest, offering material too for
dancers and choreographers. There is, after all, a demand among dancers for
music that is danceable, from an age later than that of Coppélia and Swan Lake,
but nevertheless offering straightforward melodies and rhythms.
himself in his later career decided not to allow further performances ot his
three Leonidov ballet scores and it was not until some ten years after his
death that Sèvres and La pentola magica were handed over to Ricordi for
publication. Le astuzie di Colombina remains in manuscript. It must be said
that Respighi's sole original and magnificent ballet, Belkis, Regina di Saba,
completed in 1934, remains to be rediscovered for the stage, now that the
concert suite derived from it is arousing renewed interest.
astuzie di Colombina
astuzie di Colombina, also decribed as Scherzo Veneziano, has a very simple
plot involving the usual characters of the traditional Commedia dell'arte.
Three Venetian wives plot together against their husbands, with the help of
Colombina (Columbine) and her friend Arlecchino (Harlequin). Colombina
disguises herself as a lady in order to seduce the three husbands, who have
decided to go out to amuse themselves without their wives. In the second
tableau, set in the Piazza San Marco, the three husbands, jealous of each other
as they seek the favour of the mysterious masked lady, fight a duel: the lady
reveals herself as Colombina. The three unfaithful husbands are finally
forgiven and everyone joins in a boisterous Furlana.
astuzie di Colombina contains an almost indecent variety of styles and musical
forms, ranging from the Baroque to what one hopes is a parody of the style of
the symphonic poems of Richard Strauss. It is difficult to identify all the
popular Venetian tunes used by Respighi, the most obvious of which must be the
Gondoliera, with a Venetian dialect text, sung by a tenor behind the orchestra
at the beginning of the first scene. Here a girl is taken by her lover on a
gondola, the rocking motion of which sends hef to sleep. The score also
contains two themes that reappear from time to time in the form of leit-motifs,
even in a brief first act climax in the manner of Pini di Roma. Since Le
astuzie di Colombina is not in a strict musical number form, any cue list would
be too long for quotation, particularly since only two of these cues have
titles. Apart from four short cuts suggested by the composer, the ballet is
here presented in its entirety.
de la vieille France
shorter and less noisy work than Le astuzie, Sèvres may be considered a
remarkable discovery. The score is based on themes from seventeenth and
eighteenth century France, charmingly orchestrated. It opens with a Menuet
d'Exaudet-Gavotte Louis XIII, followed by a Tambourin, a Bergère and finally
byan extended Gavotte. After the curtains have been opened by a Moor and his
two little assistants, porcelain statues of famous dancers and ballerinas are
revealed. They come to life and join in agame of blind-man's buff, before the
Moor makes them return again to their pedestals. The grand finale is reserved
for the famous Mademoiselle Camargo and her entourage, as she once appeared
before Louis XV at Versailles.
the first Menuet was performed also with a singer, the text based on an old
French poem, but the manuscript of this is now lost. Once again Respighi's
orchestration is witty and striking, in the final Gavotte nodding
acknowledgement to Tchaikovsky's Nutcraker.
La pentola magica (The Magic Pot) Respighi pays tribute to a group of less well
known Russian composers, including Grechaninov (Prelude), Arensky (Entry of the
Tsar with the Bridegrooms), Pachulski (Scene of the Tsarevich), Anton
Rubinstein (Dance of the Tartar Bowmen) and Rebikov (Finale). The remaining
numbers, all original compositions by Respighi, are partly based on Russian
popular themes and, as in the other ballets, a song is included, this time a
vocalise for a boy treble. The Dance of the Tartar Bowmen is nothing more than
a new and better orchestration of ballet music from Rubinstein's opera Demon,
with its middle section omitted. The theme and orchestration of the piece
derived from Pachulski could equally well be a homage to Elgar. Unfortunately
the libretto of La pentola magica seems not to have survived.
three Leonidov ballets use an orchestra that includes, in addition to the usual
strings, an oboe, a bassoon, pairs of flutes, clarinets, horns and trumpets and
three trombones. The ensemble is completed by a harp, a celesta and a
percussion section of drums, cymbals, glockenspiel and triangle, with a
bird-scarer in Le astuzie. Sèvres makes no use of trumpets and trombones, with
a percussion section confined to triangle and glockenspiel.
Radio Symphony Orchestra (Bratislava)
Czecho-Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra (Bratislava), the oldest symphonic
ensemble in Slovakia, was founded in 1929. The orchestra's first conductor was
František Dyk and over the past sixty years it has worked under the direction
of several prominent Czech and Slovak conductors. The orchestra has made many
recordings for the Naxos label ranging from the ballet music of Tchaikovsky to
more modern works by composers such as Copland, Britten and Prokofiev. For
Marco Polo the orchestra has recorded works by Glazunov, Glière, Miaskovsky and
other late romantic composers and film music of Honegger, Bliss, Ibert and
Adriano began his artistic activities in the domains of the theatre and the
graphic arts. In music he is largely self-taught. When he was in his twenties,
he was urged by conductors such as Joseph Keilberth and Ernest Ansermet, who
recognized his gifts, to embrace a conducting career. Instead he became a
composer of stage, film and chamber music and also a record producer for his
own gramophone label, Adriano Records. In the late 1970s he established himself
as a specialist on Ottorino Respighi, organizing a comprehensive exhibition at
the 1979 Lucerne Music Festival and publishing a discography. He has also
orchestrated a song-cycle by Respighi. For the past six years Adriano has
worked as an Italian and French language coach, teacher and stage assistant at
the Zürich Opera House and its International Opera Studio.
numerous efforts to promote little known music include an old Italian
translation of Telernann's opera Pimpinone, which was given its first
performance in Italy in 1987. For a production of Galuppi's II filosofo di
campagna at the Stuttgart Music Festival in 1988, he conceived a theatrical
prologue in which he himself appeared as an actor.
is now a regular guest of the Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra (Bratislava),
mainly contributing to a classic film music series for Marco Polo Records, in
which it is planned to include recordings of more than a dozen scores by
composers such as Honegger, Ibert, Bliss, Khatchaturian, Waxman and others.
Adriano's Respighi commitment for this label will include important first
recordings of youthful and later works.
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