This is a useful compilation bringing together some of Respighi's major orchestral works and other lesser known ones. Lambert Gardelli conducts adequate performances of the famous tone poems, "Pines" and "Fountains" of Rome but these performances must yield to other classic accounts of these works, especially those by Karajan and Charles Dutoit (Decca). His "Belfagor" Overture is quite energetic but again, I would plump for Sir Edward Downes excellent recording in his masterful Respighi survey on Chandos.
The rest of the disc has famous though hardly ground-breaking recordings by Sir Neville Marriner. "The Birds" is a fine work and does receive a colourful run through, but in my opinion it remains strangely earthbound. The Three Botticelli Pictures are also colourful and descriptive but lack that last ounce of charm. I was never much of a fan of the Ancient Airs and Dances in this Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra recording, especially when Decca has released Doráti's excellent Mercury recordings in stunning SACD sound recently. Although this Gemini release has adequate notes and fine recordings, it does appear to be a non-starter compared to what is currently on offer for Respighi.
Copyright © 2005, Gerald Fenech