Nino Rota's concert music is surprisingly well represented on record, with several recordings of the most central works available. I say "surprisingly", since despite its lyrical and melodic qualities it is hard to argue that Rota was a major composer in any interesting sense. The music is tunefully neo-classical but extremely conservative - and often rather short-breathed. True, Rota did his best to avoid letting his themes and ideas outstay their welcome, but to be perfectly honest many of said ideas weren't really worth expressing in the first place. The disc at hand, despite committed performances, does do an extent underline those shortcomings.
Best of the works here - and a fine piece overall - is the harp concerto from 1947. It is a modest and generally light, post-romantic work, but the themes are fine and the mood is attractive. The image brought to mind is that of an elegant, archaic, soft-edged, polished rococo fountain in morning light (with the early rays of dawn reflecting in the water), set in a quiet, overgrown, forgotten, classical garden. It is an attractive image, and the music is atmospheric, lyrical and well-crafted. The bassoon concerto, from three decades later, shows little stylistic evolution. As expected, it is lyrical but full of gentle humor - or at least attempts at humor; it is really pretty dry and well-behaved. It is not a bad work, to be sure, but doesn't leave any lasting impression either.
Castel del Monte (1975), for horn and orchestra, is thin gruel, however. It is a modestly faux-heroic impression of an old castle, but boring and empty. The trombone concerto (1966) is - despite the technical challenges facing the soloist - another hollow, almost irritating neo-classical work of no humor but many attempts at it. The performances are sympathetic and up to the task, however, and the orchestral playing is very good. Chandos has also provided them with warm, clear and full sound. In sum, this is hardly an essential acquisition, but if you find it cheap it is worth having for the harp concerto (and possibly the bassoon concerto).