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ClassicsOnline Home » DI VITTORIO, S.: Sinfonias Nos. 1 "Isolation" and 2, "Lost Innocence" (Chamber Orchesta of New York - Ottorino Respighi, Di Vittorio)
Hailed by critics as “following in the footsteps of Respighi”, Salvatore Di Vittorio’s “serious, lyrical and romantic” work appears here in its ideal light: conducted by the composer and performed by the orchestra he founded in 2006, noted for its “stirring…voluptuous” sound (The New York Times). Italian influences abound. Echoes of Rossini, Scarlatti and the Renaissance heighten this music’s narrative appeal, while the moving Sinfonia No. 2 turns more to the Germanic worlds of Brahms and Mahler for its elegiac message.
Salvatore Di Vittorio (b. 1967)
Overtura Respighiana • Sinfonia No. 2 ‘Lost Innocence’ Ave Maria • Sinfonia No. 1 ‘Isolation’ • Sonata No. 1 for Clarinet
Overtura Respighiana was composed as a homage to Ottorino Respighi and personal thanks to the Respighi family in response to their generosity and invitations, and for their permission for the Chamber Orchestra of New York to honour Respighi’s name by promoting his music. Initial plans for this homage overture evolved from a reworking of Respighi’s transcriptions (Rossiniana Suite and La boutique fantasque based on Rossini’s piano music Les riens), and the realization of a musical connection between Di Vittorio’s own Sinfonia No. 2 and Respighi’s The Pines of Rome. Specifically, Di Vittorio had observed a strong resemblance between the nursery rhyme motif in the final movement of his own Sinfonia No. 2 and Respighi’s ‘children’s theme’ at the beginning of The Pines of Rome. The Overtura thus begins with a meditation on The Pines of Rome, reworking the principal motifs of Rossiniana and the ending of Sinfonia No. 2. Di Vittorio’s aim in the introduction was to capture Respighi’s orchestral aesthetic at the beginning of The Pines of Rome, but with entirely different and original melodies. This fanfare-like sound develops into a variation of the March from La boutique fantasque. An interlude in the form of a sarabande interrupts, inspired by the Valse lente movement of La boutique, and then turns into a tarantella dance alla Rossini which ends with a Rossini-style “rocket” crescendo. Di Vittorio’s original melody for the tarantella is based on the introductory motif which begins the Overtura. The Overtura thereby fuses Rossini’s influence on Respighi with both of their influences on Di Vittorio’s own musical language. Overtura Respighiana received its world première under the baton of Salvatore Di Vittorio with the Chamber Orchestra of New York on 13 February 2010, at the Church of St Jean Baptiste in New York. The concert launched the new international competition The Respighi Prize for young composers and soloists, endorsed by the city of Bologna, the city of Respighi’s birth.
Sinfonia No. 2 “Lost Innocence” was composed in 1997 and then revised in 2000 for publication. The original 1997 version was given its world première in a Teatro Massimo production at the Chiesa della Catena, Palermo in 1998, under conductor Gaetano Colajanni (and was later recorded on a Panastudio CD, Le Prime Sinfonie). A programme symphony (or philosophical tone poem), Sinfonia No. 2 was inspired by the tragedy of the Yugoslav civil wars in the late 1990s. As a reflection on the history of war and peace, the symphony depicts mankind’s constant search for, discovery and abandonment of truth. Despite the work’s dramatic ending, the overall theme of the music suggests unrelenting hope through the guidance of innocence.
The opening section of the first movement, Requiem for a Child, is a prayer for the death of innocent souls. March, On Lost Innocence concludes the movement with a musical depiction of war, or evil itself. In the second movement, Dance of Tears, a cry for redemption is heard in mankind’s search for truth. This leads to a symbolic discovery of truth at the beginning of the third movement, Childheart, Song of Truth, which expresses the innocence and feelings of a child. In Revelation: The Abandoned Cradle, which concludes the third movement, mankind abandons innocence and returns to evil and war. The fourth and final movement, Elegy, is a funeral march but one which expresses the spiritual rebirth of mankind based on hope and peace. Each of the four movements is based on different world lullabies (Yugoslavian, German, English, American, French, Austrian, and Italian), which as a collective whole represent the hope of the world. The Second Symphony highlights Di Vittorio’s German/Austrian influences, including Brahms, Richard Strauss and Mahler.
The Ave Maria, for women’s chorus, was composed in 1995 and revised in 1998. It is representative of Di Vittorio’s conservatoire works during his composition studies at the Manhattan School of Music, and is one of his first a cappella works. The music demonstrates a variety of the composer’s influences from the Renaissance and late nineteenth century, and from Palestrina and Monteverdi to Verdi. In particular, certain resemblances may be traced to Verdi’s choral Ave Maria. A meditation on the Ave Maria prayer, the music attempts to capture the essence and spirit of all that is womanhood. Upon its completion in 1998, the composition was dedicated to the composer’s mother, Caterina Chiello Di Vittorio, on Mother’s Day.
Sinfonia No. 1 “Isolation”, for string orchestra, was composed in 1994 and then revised in 1999. The original 1994 version was given its world première by the Filarmonica dell’Accademia Musicale Siciliana, Palermo in 1998, under conductor Gaetano Colajanni (later recorded on the Panastudio CD, Le Prime Sinfonie). The complete 1999 version was later given its world première in Rome by the Chamber Ensemble of Rome in 2002, under conductor Francesco Carotenuto. The United States première was given by the San José Chamber Orchestra in 2003, under conductor Barbara Day Turner.
As with Di Vittorio’s First Symphony, the work evolves (according to critics) “as if in the footsteps of Respighi” and intentionally harks back to the early sinfonia writing of Antonio Vivaldi, and even Alessandro Scarlatti. Di Vittorio’s influences are derived (to some extent) from Vivaldi’s infrequently performed Sinfonia Al Santo Sepolcro. Sinfonia No. 1, a programme symphony, depicts man’s isolation or alienation from himself (his inner being and spirituality) and, more importantly, from his fellow man and the surrounding world. It is based on original folk-songs composed by Di Vittorio in his early years.
Sonata No. 1, for clarinet, like the Ave Maria, was composed in 1995 and then revised in 1998. It, too, is representative of Di Vittorio’s academic works during his composition studies, and remains in his catalogue as one of only two sonatas completed at the conservatoire. In composing the Sonata, Di Vittorio drew much inspiration and advice from his father Giuseppe Di Vittorio, a clarinettist, who had taught him music as a child. This work showcases the composer’s influences which stem not only from Verdi, but Brahms, elements of French Baroque dance and Berlioz. The music develops through an evolving series of connected melodies, always allowing new (sometimes, entirely unexpected) melodic or other musical solutions.
Salvatore Di Vittorio and Kim J. Hartswick
For more information on these scores contact:
Francesco Panasci, Edizioni Panastudio, Corso Via La Mantia, 72, 90138 Palermo, Italy
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