About this Recording
2.110276 - MUSICAL JOURNEY (A) - ITALY: A Musical Tour of Tuscany, Umbria and Rome (NTSC)
English 

A Musical Tour of Italy
With music by Felix Mendelssohn

 

CHAPTER 1

Orvieto • Lake Bolsena • Tuscany Landscape

The ancient town of Orvieto is built on a craggy hill, its buildings, cathedral and churches, towering over the surrounding landscape. Not far away is Lake Bolsena, of which glimpses are seen, with the rolling hills, fields, olive groves and vineyards of Tuscany.

Music Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 4 in A major, Op. 90, ‘Italian’ I. Allegro vivace

Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony remained unpublished during his lifetime, awaiting revision, as he had always intended, of the first movement. This opens with a cheerful and lively theme, followed by a second subject from clarinets and bassoons. The central development section introduces a third theme, with the opening figure leading the way to the return of the first subject in recapitulation.

CHAPTER 2

Rome: Baths of Caracalla

The Baths of Caracalla in Rome, now the scene of summer opera performances, were built by the Emperor Caracalla in AD216 and cover a considerable area, with the hot bath and cold bath pools preserved, although the walls of the great buildings no longer have their original marble cladding.

Music Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 4 in A major, Op. 90, ‘Italian’ II. Andante con moto

The second movement of Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony is the famous Pilgrims’s March, the solemn processional theme announced by oboes, bassoons and violas over the continuing marching rhythm of the lower strings.

CHAPTER 3

Montalcino: Church of Sant’Antimo and Landscape

The walled town of Montalcino is famous for its wine. Once dominated by Siena, it eventually fell to the Florentines. The Abbey of Sant’Antimo dates mainly from the 12th century. The surrounding fields have extensive vineyards.

Music Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 4 in A major, Op. 90, ‘Italian’ III. Con moto moderato

The third movement of Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony has been described as ‘a biedermeier minuet’ and is relatively sedate in character, its E major trio section introduced by bassoons and horns, to be followed by the return of the first section.

CHAPTER 4

Rome

Various glimpses of Rome are seen, by day and by night, including the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain and Fontana dei Fiumi, the Colosseum, Trajan’s Arch, the Pantheon with its remarkable dome, and St Peter’s, with the great piazza.

Music Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 4 in A major, Op. 90, ‘Italian’ IV. Saltarello: Presto

Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony ends with a truly Italian movement, an A minor Saltarello, an energetic and traditional Italian dance.

CHAPTER 5

Landscape Montepulciano • Siena • Tuscan Landscape • Florence

Clouds are shown, forming patterns in the evening sky, with buildings silhouetted against the dying light. The Siena Piazza del Campo is seen with the Palazzo Pubblico and its adjacent Torre del Magia, dating from the 14th century. The slow movement of the concerto is accompanied by views of the Tuscan landscape through morning mists, and glimpses of the hill-town of Montepulciano, with its vineyeards. The last movement of the concerto is matched with views of Florence, of the Ponte Vecchio over the Arno, the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, the Baptistery with its gilded bronze doors, and the Uffizi Gallery.

Music Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64

I. Allegro molto appassionato
II. Andante - Allegro non troppo
III. Allegro molto vivace

Mendelssohn’s second concerto for the violin, the great Violin Concerto in E minor, was written late in his career, completed in 1844. The work was intended for his friend and contemporary, the violinist Ferdinand David, whom Mendelssohn had recruited to lead the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, of which he had first been appointed conductor in 1835. The concerto brings various innovations. In the first movement the soloist enters almost at once and the cadenza is placed at the close of the central development section, leading to the recapitulation. The second movement is linked to the first by a sustained bassoon note and is followed by a transitional section, marked Allego non troppo, which leads to the energetic final Allegro molto vivace, a movement that recaptures all that lightness of touch and clarity of texture that Mendelssohn had displayed from the start.

Keith Anderson

Recordings

‘Italian’ Symphony. Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Anthony Bramall [Naxos 8.550055 (with A Midsummer Night’s Dream)]

Violin Concerto. Takako Nishizaki, violin, Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Kenneth Jean [Naxos 8.550153 (with Tchaikovsky)]


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