“Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov had a profound influence on Russian music, but in a way, his deepest legacy came in the work of the Italian Ottorino Respighi. In the works of his so-called "Roman Trilogy" (not exactly a trilogy but a successful single work, Fontane di Roma, that generated two sequels), Respighi used huge orchestral canvases able to contain a variety of pictorial effects and references to styles ranging from that of Rimsky-Korsakov to Debussy (hear especially the first movement of Fontane di Roma) to Richard Strauss. Deepest credit here goes to sound engineer Ralph Couzens, working in the Church of S. Augustine, Kilbourn, London. Churches generally produce over-resonant recordings of symphonic repertory, but here, the manifold textures of Respighi's music, including such difficult-to-record combinations as high percussion over brass, all come through with startling clarity. Of course, conductor John Wilson and his Sinfonia of London contribute to this clarity with precisely crafted balances, all the more impressive in that the Sinfonia of London is a session orchestra that did not hone their performances of these works in concert. The Roman Trilogy pieces are four-movement symphonies in all but name, and Wilson adopts a strong, propulsive approach that holds the thematic development together and may remind listeners of the style of the early major champion of these works, Arturo Toscanini. These are exceptional Respighi recordings.”
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