Respighi's Fountains of Rome well-captured

Olli Mustonen, accompanied by the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra lead by Sakari Oramo give a fine performance of Respighi's Fountains of Rome

Composer:  Respighi
Repertoire:  Concerto in the Mixolydian Mode; Fountains of Rome
Artists: Olli Mustonen (piano), Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra/Sakari Oramo
Rating: 3/5
Genre: Orchestral 
Label: Ondine ODE 1165-2

The Music Otto Respighi’s own brand of late Romanticism is heard in a somewhat curious light in the 1925 ‘almost-concerto’ constructed on a medieval scale (the Mixolydian mode) and using a well-known plainsong theme. In a curious twist of cultural fate, it ends up sounding rather like a 60s film score conjuring an image of well-coiffed Hollywood actors in togas. Respighi’s real picture of Rome’s fountains, the other piece on the disc (and part of his ‘Roman trilogy’) is more secure and entertaining. 

The Performance As decent as the playing of pianist Mustonen and the FRSO is, they only start sparring proper in the sprightly Variations that form the concerto’s third movement. Then again, that’s the first time Respighi asks them to. Oramo does his level best to keep the attention in some of the concerto’s more ponderous corners. In the tight acoustic of Helsinki’s Culture House, however, Fountains of Rome is wholly engrossing: this is a fine performance very well-captured. One to return to. 

The Verdict Full marks to Ondine for recording a rarity, even if they’ve underlined precisely why it’s not heard very often. Fountains, though, is scintillating and is therefore the pay off. All things considered, recommended. 

Want More? Then you’ll need the complete Roman trilogy, and there are few better recordings than Antonio Pappano’s, made ‘on location’ a Roma (EMI 394 4292).