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Symphony No.3 Elegia Eroica


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Product Details

  • Performer: La Vecchia; Orchestra Sinfonica Di Roma
  • Composer: Casella Alfredo
  • Audio CD (June 28 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Ncl
  • ASIN: B004YJZ8CI
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #112,233 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Product Description

The revelatory Naxos Casella series continues with two powerful works that grew from the tragedy of two World Wars. Searingly dissonant and 'profoundly human', the Elegia eroica is Casella' memorial to Italian soldiers killed in World War I. His Third Sy

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Format: Audio CD
With this CD, the Naxos company continues its praiseworthy exploration of composers either long-forgotten or unjustly neglected. Those who have purchased Casella's First and Second Symphonies in this series may be jolted by the seemingly abrupt change in his compositional style that occurred between his second and third symphonies. The latter, as well as his "Elegia eroica" are aptly described thus by Naxos: "[These] two powerful works grew from the tragedy of two World Wars. Searingly dissonant and 'profoundly human', the Elegia eroica (Heroic Elegy) [Op. 29, composed in 1916] is Casella's memorial to Italian soldiers killed in World War I. His Third Symphony [Op. 63, composed 1939-1940] ... assimilates the influences and experiences of a lifetime into an exhilaratingly melodic, emotionally wide-ranging and truly organic whole."
Since I'm a dyed-in-the-wool lover of Romantic-era music, these works are too modern and too dissonant for my taste, but this should certainly not deter either devotees of Casella's music or those who like post-Romantic works. The Rome Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Francesco La Vecchia, performs splendidly and the recording quality is excellent.
Ted Wilks
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5 reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Casella Sinfonia (Symphony No. 3) / Elegia eroica July 8 2011
By E. S. Wilks - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
With this CD, the Naxos company continues its praiseworthy exploration of composers either long-forgotten or unjustly neglected. Those who have purchased Casella's First and Second Symphonies in this series may be jolted by the seemingly abrupt change in his compositional style that occurred between his second and third symphonies. The latter, as well as his "Elegia eroica" are aptly described thus by Naxos: "[These] two powerful works grew from the tragedy of two World Wars. Searingly dissonant and 'profoundly human', the Elegia eroica (Heroic Elegy) [Op. 29, composed in 1916] is Casella's memorial to Italian soldiers killed in World War I. His Third Symphony [Op. 63, composed 1939-1940] ... assimilates the influences and experiences of a lifetime into an exhilaratingly melodic, emotionally wide-ranging and truly organic whole."
Since I'm a dyed-in-the-wool lover of Romantic-era music, these works are too modern and too dissonant for my taste, but this should certainly not deter either devotees of Casella's music or those who like post-Romantic works. The Rome Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Francesco La Vecchia, performs splendidly and the recording quality is excellent.
Ted Wilks
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Casella's masterpiece Aug. 17 2011
By AndrewCF - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Alfredo Casella: Sinfonia per Orchestra, Op. 63; Italia, Op. 11Expressionismus: Expressionism in Music
It troubles me that Italy's finest 20th Century composer, Alfredo Casella, still receives distain from some critical circles. No doubt, his documented admiration for Mussolini and his adherence to Fascist dogma has not warmed him to some musical hearts. But the composer's advocacy to such heinous beliefs is by no means clear cut. His second wife was Jewish and he counted Castelnuovo-Tedesco among his friends. In a world which has embraced Wagner despite his blatant anti-Semitism the neglect of Casella does not seem justified. But certainly those unsavory believes may have had some residual effects on such prominent composers such as D'Indy, Pfitzner, and Von Schillings. Nevertheless, Casella's credentials are impeccable: he attended Faure's composition classes with Ravel and Koechlin. In Paris, his circle of friends included Stravinsky and Enescu, and he was highly influenced at one point in his career by Mahler and Richard Strauss.

Recently we have received the gift of two fine recordings of Casella's Sinfonia per orchestra (Symphony No. 3). The first, conducted by Alun Fracis with the WDR Koln on CPO, is a triumph and is the finer of the two recordings, but not by a wide margin. The newer recording, conducted by Francesco LaVecchia with the Rome Symphony Orchestra on Naxos, is hardly an also-ran; in fact, I'd consider it the finest of the Naxos cycle. While the timings of the movements are similar, it seems that Francis is the more probing, LaVecchia the more fiery and contemporary. The CPO recording is more refined, and the orchestra is magnificent. The Naxos recording is slightly richer than the others in the series, and the orchestra, while not perfect, gives a fine accounting. The influences to this symphony are recognizable: Honegger, Hindemith, and Shostakovich. This symphony comes before the final phase of Casella's exploration, when Casella fully embraced neo-Classicism.

These recordings have excellent fill-ups. The CPO presents the colorful Italia, a darkly colored, Respighi-like tone poem that ends in a joyous tarantella to "Funiculi, Funicula." The Naxos gives us the angry and sorrowful Elegia eroica, a tribute to the victims of the First World War. LaVecchia's version is fantastic, but the version to be found on Signum's "Expressionismus" set, conducted by Nikos Athinaos is even more poignant.

To sum up, both of these recordings will provide much pleasure.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
In a Phrase - Never a Dull Phrase Feb. 24 2012
By B. Hutchins - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
What rat has been hiding this Symphony from us!

This is an amazing work. In a phrase - there is not a dull phrase in it.

This is a four-movement Symphony, finished in 1940. As suggested in the liner notes and in other reviews, the 2nd movement will necessarily remind one of Mahler, and the 3rd, of Shostakovich. This is far from a bad thing, and there is so much more in these two movements as well.

The fourth movement reminds me of - well - of a movie score. Probably music for heroic actions scenes. Yet it could not have been a score, as it would have co-opted anything on the screen. Donald Grout once reminded one of his classes (regarding music of Poulenc - Dialogues...) about the direction of influence in such perceived case. That a movie score of say 1970 might be influenced by a concert score of say 1940 speaks well of composers for the films, as it likely does as well, for increased sophistication of movie watchers (at least in terms of music).

I have not mentioned the first movement yet. You really should just listen to it I think. Knowing nothing (or virtually nothing) of Casella's music, I was somewhat in the position of not knowing what I had - like tuning into a broadcast mid-work. To my surprise, this sounded to me: American. First of Piston, and then perhaps of Mennin, or Rorem. I thought this guy was Italian. Was I wrong? This is a Naxos release, so I turned the case over expecting to see the American Flag up in the corner. Nope. But in searching the notes, he did write it FOR the Chicago SO. And somewhere it says he was the conductor of the Boston Pops before Fiedler. Was it: when in Rome, do as the Americans do?

Well, perhaps the harmonies were a tiny bit too full, the melodies a bit too strident to be 1940 American. But then there also seemed to be Roussel, Holmboe, Rubbra, Honegger, and perhaps, Magnard. A big party it seems.

Okay - why insist that a work must be either an original voice or demonstrably derivative? Instead, here is a wonderful work full of interesting ideas. Good for Casella. Lucky for us.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Neglected Masterpiece Sept. 14 2011
By Allen Cohen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
In the first half of the 20th century Alfredo Casella, along with Gian-Francesco Malipiero, was pivotal in reviving the Italian orchestral tradition, specifically its symphonic component. In a recent conversation, James McHard, eminent musicologist and author of the engrossing, thought provoking survey, "The Future of Modern Music" observed that "Casella was the penultimate neo-classicist. His influences can be traced back to Mahler and even ultimately back to Mozart, and even earlier. Casella derives every ounce of power out of his magnificent classical structures. This is vividly communicated in his unjustly neglected 3rd symphony of 1939." Now collectors can savor this masterwork in a superb new Naxos release. Conductor, Francesco La Vecchia once again leads the Rome Symphony Orchestra as he did with previous volumes. Conception and realization are topnotch. Engineering is transparent and dynamic. Packaging and liner notes are of the highest caliber. As a bonus the searing Elegia Eroica of 1916 tops off the latest installment in this important series.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
The Good, the Bad and the Uneven Nov. 24 2012
By J. R. Trtek - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I will readily admit that I may simply not know what I'm talking about, period. I lead off with the statement because to my mind the three reviewers who preceded me here have shoveled maybe just a tad bit more praise onto this disc than is called for. Not that I think that either Casella's Third Symphony or his Elegia eroica are particularly bad pieces of music. They're not, although the Elegia, written to commemorate Italy's fallen during World War I, starts out sounding almost like main title music for one of the films in the Universal Frankenstein series, then begins to make out like Ives' Three Places in New England before heading into a prolonged quiet phase until a return to harshness marks a slow plod toward the end. I must admit that it did not engage me. The symphony, on the other hand, did have appeal for me, but only in spurts. There are some extended moments throughout that, indeed, are wonderfully textured -- especially in the first movement, which I think is the best of the lot. The echoes of Mahler that are claimed for the second movement I found to be very weak echoes indeed -- I really think that conclusion is pushing it just a bit. I found that movement all right, but rather limp. The third movement scherzo is a very mechanistic, neoclassical bit of subdued frenzy in its first portion before the second half introduces some interesting bits of contrast. The final movement to me failed to provide an adequate summation; rather, it just limped along, borrowing a bit here and there from what had gone before but never tying up loose ends. On the whole, if I could, I'd give this disc 3.5 stars, but forced to go up or down a notch, I will be generous and give it four -- there's enough here make me come back, at least for portions.

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