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Raymond Tuttle
Fanfare, May 2013

Solo work is polished and distinctive, and the ensemble is well blended and disciplined. Conductor Francesco La Vecchia seems to know what he wants to get out of these scores…If you have enjoyed earlier releases in this series, there is no reason to hesitate. If you haven’t heard Casella yet, then what are you waiting for? This disc is as good a place as any to begin. © 2013 Fanfare Read complete review



Don O’Connor
American Record Guide, January 2013

Playing, interpretation, and sound are all good. This pioneering Naxos survey of the Italian symphonic tradition has opened my ears to a worthwhile composer. © 2013 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide online




Robert Moon
Audiophile Audition, December 2012

The longest and most important work on this disc is the magnificent Concerto for Orchestra (1937). The powerful brass call to action majestically opens the Sinfonia, but it’s the moving central theme and Casella’s brilliant orchestration that stays in the mind. The central Passacaglia builds to an aching climax that will leave Mahlerians weeping with joy. The triumphant conclusion is infused with an Italian warmth that leaves the listener in a state of jubilation. Casella called this work, ‘undoubedly my most complete achievement in the field of orchestral music.’

It belongs with Bartók and Lutosławski as one of the great Concerto for Orchestra’s of the twentieth century. The Orchestra Sinfonica di Roma under the leadership of Francesco La Vecchia perform with conviction and the sound on this disc is of audiophile quality. One of the best discs of the year that will leave you wanting to explore more Casella. © 2012 Audiophile Audition Read complete review



John von Rhein
Chicago Tribune, December 2012

CASELLA, A.: Concerto for Orchestra / Pagine di guerra / Suite (Rome Symphony, La Vecchia) 8.573004
CASELLA, A.: Donna serpente Suites (La) / Introduzione, aria e toccata / Partita (Sun Hee You, Rome Symphony, La Vecchia) 8.573005

Classical CDs full of aural pleasures

The two newest entries in Naxos’ worthwhile survey of Casella’s orchestral works display both his neoclassical side and his early modernist bent. If you don’t know Casella’s music, these discs make an excellent starting point. © 2012 Chicago Tribune




David Hurwitz
ClassicsToday.com, October 2012

These performances are extremely fine. Chandos just released the Concerto in its own Casella series…but I prefer Francesco La Vecchia’s more relaxed way with the music. If his orchestra isn’t perhaps as polished as the BBC Philharmonic, his approach gives the piece just that much more breathing room to make an impression. He allows its Italianate lyricism to blossom naturally, while the neoclassical chatter of its rhythms never turns mechanical. The engineering also ranks with the best in this generally excellent ongoing series. Both the Suite and Pagine di guerra are recording premieres. This disc is a treat, and a major release. © 2012 ClassicsToday.com Read complete review



Dan Morgan
MusicWeb International, October 2012

…here is a tribute to La Vecchia’s judicious balancing of raw pictorialism and real feeling.

The Concerto for Orchestra, dedicated to the Dutch conductor Willem Mengelberg, is the most substantial work here. It’s also a summation of Casella’s progress to date; in the highly animated Sinfonia various parts of the orchestra are allowed to shine, those see-sawing string figures reminiscent of Shostakovich at times. That said, there’s a boldness—an ease of invention if you like—to Casella’s writing that confirms he’s mastered his craft; the Passacaglia, artfully worked, is not as dry as one might expect, and the finale takes us on a thrilling ride…La Vecchia and his band are every bit as engaged—and engaging—in this strange, delightfully dishevelled work.

Music of unbridled energy, a big, sense-sating sound and unusually detailed liner-notes add up to a most desirable package. In short, Naxos have given us another cracker—and it’s not even Christmas!

Great fun; buy now and beat the rush. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review



Dan Morgan
MusicWeb International, October 2012

The start of the Overture is a thinly disguised mélange of Mahler and Richard Strauss, which soon morphs into a gaudy—and resolutely Italian—free-for-all. These Romans certainly make the most of those dancing rhythms, annunciating fanfares and sizzling cymbals. The Sarabande is more sedate—grave, even—and it boasts lovely tunes that float free of the orchestra in a quite magical way. Happily the recording combines transient tizz and tingle with compensating warmth and weight; this ensures Casella’s darker, more sonorous writing is also well caught. The boisterous Bourrée brings to mind the high spirits of Mahler’s Fourth, whose wide-eyed innocence is soon lost in a blaze of festal energy.

This music is an audacious mix that really demands an all-or-nothing approach from conductor, orchestra and recording engineers; and that’s exactly what it gets. Pagine di guerra—inspired by newsreels of the Great War—is even more visceral; and while the original images were conveyed in flickering monochrome Casella’s are delivered in extra vivid Technicolor. The relentless pounding of German artillery and a Cossack cavalry charge will rattle your window-panes; the human cost is counted in a poignant lament for Rheims Cathedral and an endless panorama of a field crammed with wooden crosses. In any other context this piece would be condemned as an amalgam of sheer bombast and crude sentimentality; that it works so well here is a tribute to La Vecchia’s judicious balancing of raw pictorialism and real feeling.

The Concerto for Orchestra, dedicated to the Dutch conductor Willem Mengelberg, is the most substantial work here. It’s also a summation of Casella’s progress to date; in the highly animated Sinfonia various parts of the orchestra are allowed to shine…That said, there’s a boldness—an ease of invention if you like—to Casella’s writing that confirms he’s mastered his craft; the Passacaglia, artfully worked, is not as dry as one might expect, and the finale takes us on a thrilling ride.

Music of unbridled energy, a big, sense-sating sound and unusually detailed liner-notes add up to a most desirable package. In short, Naxos have given us another cracker—and it’s not even Christmas!

Great fun; buy now and beat the rush. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review



David Denton
David's Review Corner, September 2012

The Italian  composer, Alfredo Casella, fell under so many influences you are never quite sure what to expect in a disc of world premiere recordings. He had been a prodigiously gifted child born in 1883, and as a youth was admitted to the Paris Conservatoire to study with Faure, though his compositions show little evidence of his mentor’s influence. Mahler—almost quoted—was clearly the inspiration for the opening movement of the Suite in C major, while Sibelius turns up in the finale of the work’s three movements. Don’t disparage it for it’s magpie origins, for it is readily likeable and very effectively scored. Pagine di guerra (War Pages) is a series of five pictures of the First World War, where Honegger, Prokofiev and Mosolov seem to have become involved. Well intentioned, today it’s motivation has been lost in history and it becomes an essay on random ideas ending with a picture of a rather turbulent Adriatic. The Concerto for Orchestra came much later in 1937 and was intended for Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw Orchestra and its conductor Willem Mengleberg, a strong supporter of Casella. It is not a orchestral concerto in the Bartók mould, where sections display their virtuosity, but a three-movement abstract score for the whole orchestra. It is well-thought through and adventurously scored, but by now Cassella was more responsive to the influences of the Schoenberg era, and while he considered it the peak of his orchestral output, I guess it will take time for my easily convinced ears to come to like the first two movements, the finale being a good-natured and busy allegro. The Orchestra Sinfonica di Roma, conducted by Francesco La Vecchia, sounds in fine form, though they cannot hide the demands of the Concerto. Good reliable and uncomplicated sound quality. © 2012 David’s Review Corner






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