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CD Review

Victor de Sabata

Hyperion 67209

Orchestral Works

  • La notte di Platon
  • Gethsemani
  • Juventus
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Aldo Ceccato
Hyperion CDA67209 63m DDD
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Concoct a cross between the opulent orchestral harmonies of Respighi and the dazzling orchestration of Richard Strauss and you may come close to the musical style that is de Sabata's orchestral work. Obviously in the 'legend' class where his conducting is concerned, this timely issue enables us to appreciate de Sabata in a completely different light.

The three works on offer here are representative of his output, which is slight but quite qualitative on this showing. 'La Notte di Platon' is the weakest work from this triptych as it does not really plumb great depths and the music tends to waver and get lost in its direction at times. Still, the melodies are quite intriguing and the conclusion manages to hold the fort. Not so in Gethsemani. This is certainly one of the top class works written by de Sabata, which marries a deep mournful foreboding with a heroic vein that runs throughout the piece like a leitmotif. Ceccato directs with a passion and the London Symphony respond with some very characterful brass and wind playing.

'Juventus' (no connection with the famous Turin football team) is perhaps the more better known as it occasionally crops up in the composer's biographies but this is definitely its first recording. This is a noisy bombastic work, rather in the form of Respighi's 'Fontane di Roma' but uniquely original in its own right. It receives a rousing performance from Ceccato and the London Symphony who rise to the challenge in admirable fashion.

Hyperion has included a substantial biography of de Sabata which refers to his earlier compositional career and there are also detailed synopsis' of the three works on CD. This issue could be one of the discoveries of the year.

Copyright © 2001, Gerald Fenech

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