This exciting new issue brings together one of the most popular of late-Romantic composers with a fine talent on the Italian scene who is quickly winning a reputation abroad. Sandro Ivo Bartoli has shown himself a fine champion of early 20th-century piano music, especially from his home country. His previous disc was of arrangements of Liszt by that formidable polymath Ferruccio Busoni; his next issue for Brilliant Classics will be of Busoni’s monumental testament to the fugue, the Fantasia Contrappuntistica. Here he tackles slightly lighter repertoire, less well-known but of considerable interest to the ever-growing audience for Romantic rarities.
The combination of piano and orchestra might seem ideally suited to the style(s) of Ottorino Respighi, offering as it does the generic possibilities for weighty declamation, broad melodies and attention-drawing virtuosity: all these qualities can be heard in abundance in his best works in for this medium, the Concerto in modo misolidio and the Toccata. Presented here for the first time as a coupling, both of Respighi’s great works for piano and orchestra take inspiration from early music, as may be judged from their archaic titles. Pre-Baroque modes and forms, in which Respighi became something of an expert in the dawn of early-music scholarship, pepper these score with an exotic, yet historically conscientious flavour.
The Concerto is grand in manner and generous in scale; the single-movement Toccata is much more driven, and indeed hectic at times. The combination of these two works on a single CD makes for a sensational pairing, full of Romantic melodies and high-quality pianistic thrills.
• Detailed booklet note on the context and content of the works by Sandro Ivo Bartoli
• Bartoli’s rediscovery of the concertos of Respighi (Bedford, 1991), Malipiero (London, 1994) and Casella (1995), was followed by the first modern performance in the United States of Ottorino Respighi’s Toccata for piano and orchestra, with the Johnson City Symphony under Lewis Dalvitt.
• About Bartoli: "a fantastic pianist", wrote Der Spiegel Kultur
• About Bartoli: “such a performance of the Emperor concerto had not been heard for more than a decade" wrote the Thüringer Allgemeine
• Svenska Dagbladet heralded Bartoli as "an outwordly virtuoso”