As part of the Musica Italiana series, the BBC Philharmonic and Gianandrea Noseda perform two important works by Alfredo Casella, a largely forgotten Italian composer who was actually one of the most important of his generation. Italian composers in the early years of the twentieth century were not much interested in the symphony. Casella, however, was a major exception. On the advice of Giuseppe Martucci, the thirteen-year-old Casella had been sent to the Paris Conservatoire where, alongside outstanding fellow students such as Maurice Ravel and George Enescu, he received the all-round professional training that would not have been available to him in Italy.
He was much influenced in his early piano pieces not only by his composition teacher, Gabriel Fauré, but also by Debussy and Ravel. His next stylistic allegiance, with the Russian Nationalists, was also a product of his Parisian environment, not least by way of the formative friendship with Ravel. But in his passion for the music of Gustav Mahler he was, in French circles at least, more or less on his own. As Mahler was moved to learn when he first met Casella, in Paris in 1909, the young composer knew his symphonies ‘by heart.' Symphony No. 2 in C minor is dedicated to George Enescu, and here receives its premiere recording. Many examples of themes, harmonic colours, and orchestral sounds derive directly from the music of his hero figure, Mahler, but no one who knows the two composers could ever mistake one for the other. Casella has his own distinctive personality and his own agenda, and his passion turns into exhilarating frenzy.
Drawing from as many as ninety of the hundreds of Scarlatti sonatas available to him, in the neoclassical Scarlattiana, Casella presents an abundance of melody, the work's general light-heartedness effectively offset by such thoughtful episodes as the matching slow introductions to the opening Sinfonia and the Finale.
These two orchestral works demonstrate Casella's fascinating tonal language. They are beautifully conducted by Gianandrea Noseda, a long-time champion of Casella's works.
'...this enterprising release (apparently the premiere of the Symphony) merits the fullest rating.' Musical Opinion
'...highly recommended to all collectors.' Fanfare
'...Martin Roscoe - a connoiseur's pianist - proves an ideal soloist for Gianandrea Noseda and the BBC Philharmonic...' International Piano Magazine
'...anyone with more than a passing interest in this fascinating composer needs to have this remarkable disc.' International Record Review
'...Martin Roscoe is a witty, trenchant piano soloist and the Chandos sound brings out all the piquancy of Casella's artfully un-18th century orchestration.' Gramophone
'What a fantastic piece Alfredo Casella's Second Symphony is! " "...Casella's kaleidoscopic orchestration played here with virtuosity by the BBC Philharmonic driven by a totally committed Gianandrea Noseda, the music's many colours revealed by a recording of depth, physical impact and clarity (sympathetic or on-holiday neighbours required!)" "..After this, Scarlattiana (1926) is a jeu d'espirit of the highest order, light-hearted, cheerful music, quite Parisian..." "Martin Roscoe is the nimble and sensitive pianist and members of the BBC Philharmonic seem to b enjoying themselves; a feast for listeners who enjoy music that is somewhat tongue-in cheek. But the symphony is the thing, and that couldn't be bettered, served in this its first recording.' ClassicalSource.com
'...under Noseda's guidance there is cohesion, drive and passion, and the playful Scarlattiana (1926) reveals Casella's spirited allegiance to the clarity and perkiness of neo-classicism.' The Telegraph
Performance Recording BBC Music Magazine