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Chamber Music
Trio for clarinet, cello and piano (1973), Sonata for Viola and Piano (1935), Trio for flute, violin and piano (1958), Sonata for Violin and Piano (1937)
Ensemble Nino Rota
Chandos CHAN 9832 [62:56]
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Following the excellent disc of chamber music by Nino Rota on ASV CD DCA 1072 (see my review on CMOTW), it is a pleasure to welcome this programme from Chandos. There are six works on the ASV programme, of which the two trios reappear in versions here. There is little purpose in my repeating my general comments on the music itself, suffice to say that the opening trio benefits from a relaxed, limpid, utterly fluid approach which really allows the elegant structure of Rota's writing to shine. This version by the Ensemble Nino Rota lacks the urgent attack of the Ex Novo Ensemble on ASV, and while it may be a matter of taste, seems to better capture the essential beauty at the heart of the composer's work. The tone is smoother, more melodic, the musicianship more graceful. The same can be said of the Trio for flute, violin and piano from 1958, a more skittish, disturbed work which likewise benefits from a greater clarity.

The two sonatas date from early in Rota's career, when he was very influenced by the music of the Renaissance. Even so, they appear as late-Romantic works stripped down to a pastoral heart, shorn of overwrought emotionalism. Anti-neurotic, indeed almost anti-20th Century in their civilised elegance, Rota's compositions happily reflect a personality who wrote music to appeal to the listener rather than the theoretician.

This is a more tranquil programme than that by the Ex Novo Ensemble, the recently formed Ensemble Nino Rota delivering a beguiling concert. The result is an album to be treasured, and while I am very glad to have both this and the ASV in my collection it is hard, given the overlap of material, to recommend that any other than the more dedicated follower of the composer acquire both. My solution would be to chose the ASV album for greater vitality and diversity of material, the Chandos for sheer beauty and exquisite musicianship.

Gary S. Dalkin

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