“The voice can be very lovely indeed, especially in the wistful ballads with their aching sense of a vanished past, but there’s something about the way Bostridge inhabits the storytelling that really lifts this music off the page.”
Respighi Songs from Ian Bostridge and Saskia Giorgini has been selected as Limelight’s Recording of the Month. Review by Clive Paget.
“If your idea of Ottorino Respighi (1879-1936) is simply as the flash and dash composer of the colourful Roman Trilogy, this ravishing disc of his rarely recorded solo songs will set the record straight. The 67-minute program was a lockdown project for the gifted pianist Saskia Giorgini who was on the hunt for something to lift her heart. “Not only did I gain access to a treasure house of colourful and imaginative musical writing, but also to the most intimate area of the composer’s mind,” she writes in her sleeve note. “And what a mind!”
It’s true. Respighi was an endlessly curious, widely read artist fluent in 11 languages. These two dozen songs were written between 1905 and 1930 so effectively document the composer’s stylistic development. They range from an Italian-inflected Impressionism with passing hints of Wagner to folk music, both of his native land and further abroad – the four arrangements of traditional Scottish songs that conclude the disc are an unexpected pleasure – but are always rooted in melody, much of it immediately memorable. His setting of text, whether declamatory or lyrical, is always apposite, and never clunky.
They turn out to suit Giorgini’s regular recital partner, Ian Bostridge, a singer better known for English song and German Lieder, down to the ground. The British tenor’s ethereal upper register and instinct for interrogating a text bring out more than just Respighi’s immaculately spun melodies. The voice can be very lovely indeed, especially in the wistful ballads with their aching sense of a vanished past, but there’s something about the way Bostridge inhabits the storytelling that really lifts this music off the page.”
Photo by Julia Wesely