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Victor De Sabata : La Notte Di Platon - Gethsemani - Juventus
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This CD is going to provide unexpected delight for lovers of the Late-Romantics. Victor de Sabata is remembered as a remarkably dynamic conductor who made some stunning records with the London Philharmonic Orchestra for Decca in the 1940s and 50s. It is not so well known that he was also a composer. Here are three ravishing symphonic poems from the early 1920s, substantial in length and gorgeously scored for an enormous orchestra. Everybody who responds to Respighi, Rachmaninov, Scriabin, Strauss and Busoni is going to love this disc. The conductor, Aldo Ceccato, is de Sabata's son-in-law and has long championed these scores around the world. Here he directs de Sabata's 'own' orchestra, the LPO, in their first commercial recordings. Sonically, this disc is state-of-the-art.
'A discovery, thrillingly performed' (The Sunday Times) 'Hyperion once again has us in its debt with its recovery of scores long lost from view ... immensely attractive as well as impressively written. I am in no doubt that they deserve to be in the regular repertoire' (The Times) 'Well worth exploring (BBC Music Magazine) 'This is the luxuriant but richly evocative and eventful music of a born orchestrator. A discovery, thrillingly performed by Ceccato and the LPO' (The Sunday Times) 'Lush textures in lucid orchestration, with exquisite melodies supported by warm, summer-night harmonies. A real discovery' (Punch) 'La notte di Plàton' is an exciting and rich work that makes use of unique orchestral writing to procure a striking, almost primitive effect ... Gethsemeni is a poem of lush and startling beauty. The performances, under the baton of Aldo Ceccato, are superb. A fantastic disc that cannot be recommended highly enough (Music Teacher) 'All three works programmed here are lusciously scored ... You couldn t hope for a better played, or more richly recorded, trio of performances' (Gramophone) 'Gethsemani ... contains some of the loveliest orchestral sounds I have heard in years. If you have made a resolution to buy only one CD this month you should make it this one (International Record Review) 'Strongly recommended' --Fanfare, USA
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De Sabata's "Juventus" is one of the far fewer great 20th-century works for the positive side of the human coin. Here we have a surging, yearning, flamboyant, let-it-all-hang-out saga of youthful ambition, brilliantly conceived and orchestrated by a conductor who chose the more financially reliable path of performance over that of posthumous fame for composition.
There were many great orchestrators in the 20th century, but fewer who wrote great melodies as well. "Juventus" has such a melody, its second theme or "love" theme. Some may not catch it the first time around, but once you DO catch it, your heart will fly every time you hear it.
The piece is similar in spirit to Strauss's "Don Juan" or the drama of a Korngold film score. It is for listeners who like to soar like Tchaikovsky, but eventually find the Russian master too repetitive.
The other works are very fine as well, but less distinctive, less overtly passionate.
Buy the CD, and be young again! Or continue to listen to Britten's War Requiem. The choice is yours.
La Notte di Plato contains some good ideas and is expertly scored, but it sounds a little superficial and the music tends to meander; some pruning would have done wonders but what we got is still eminently worth hearing nonetheless and the climax is expertly shaped. The generally elegiac but heroically sounding Gethsemani is far stronger in that respect; although the thematic material is intriguing it is not quite memorable, but the work is well-constructed and manages to leave a lasting impression.
Juventus is probably the only work here that fans of the conductor may have heard about (if not actually heard). It is a vigorous, slightly pompous but rousing work full of noise and orchestral effects - not really great music, but certainly very enjoyable. The performances are excellent; the London Symphony plays with passion, spirit and vigor under Aldo Ceccato; they are particularly effective in Juventus, but in general manage to realize the glittering brilliance of this generally lush, luscious but never overscored music with total conviction. The sound quality is up to Hyperion's usual high standards. Recommended.