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Gino Marinuzzi; Overtures and Intermezzi
Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868)
Il Barbiere di Siviglia: Overture (1816) [7:43]
La Gazza ladra: Overture (1817) [9:40]
L´Assedio di Corinto: overture (1831)[9:40]
Vincenzo BELLINI (1801-1835)
Norma: Overture (1831) [5:51]
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
I Vespri siciliani: overture (1855) [8:47]
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924)
Manon Lescaut: Intermezzo (1893) [4:59]
Pietro MASCAGNI (1863-1945)
Cavalleria rusticana: Intermezzo (1890) [3:55]
Le maschere: overture (1901) [8:02]
Umberto GIORDANO (1867-1948)
Siberia: La Pasqua (1927) [4:42]
Ildebrando PIZZETTI (1880-1968)
Fedra: Overture (1915) [8:22]
Ermanno WOLF-FERRARI (1876-1948)
Il Campiello: Ritornello Act 3 (1936) [2:48]
Gino MARINUZZI (1882-1945)
Music for i trionfi Sforza e Savoia: Rito nuziale [4:09]
Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala, Milano/Gino Marinuzzi
rec. 1936-42
PREISER PR93486 [78:45]

Experience Classicsonline

If pressed to compile a list of the most distinguished Italian conductors of the first half of the twentieth century, I think it would be a struggle to come up with the name of Gino Marinuzzi. This is not an artistic matter, more a question of the lacunae in his discography.
Marinuzzi (1882-1945) was born in Palermo and studied piano and composition at the city’s conservatoire. He stepped in at short notice, in classic fashion, for an ailing colleague and thus began a career as a conductor, albeit one who composed. He was invited to replace Toscanini at the Teatro Colón, but preferred learning his craft in Italian houses where he conducted a lot of Wagner. By 1909 he was in Paris and soon after he went to Buenos Aires. There he gave the first South American performances Tristan and Die Walküre. He remained enormously popular in the continent, returning every year until 1933. From this point his career accelerated; his most famous opera, Jacquerie was premiered, and he conducted at La Scala, at the Chicago Opera, later turning down a contract with the Metropolitan in New York. He gave numerous premieres of important works by Malipiero, Wolf-Ferrari, Pizzetti and countless more. He was also active as a symphonic conductor.
The matter of his death was curious. He took La Scala on tour to occupied countries, and some of the 78s he recorded, which are in Preiser’s disc, were recorded in Berlin, though there was nothing especially odd or unsettling about that, at least, given the circumstances. Rumours that he had been assassinated by partisans in Milan in 1945 persisted in a number of reference books I’ve consulted about Marinuzzi, but it seems the truth was more prosaic. He suffered acute liver failure, and died in hospital in Milan.
If his name is known at all it’s for one major recording project, the 1941 set of La forza del destino with a cast including Masini, Caniglia, Tagliabue and Stignani. Recorded over 35 sides, it was the opera’s first complete appearance on disc. It appears he did make some (unpublished) recordings for Columbia in America as early as 1920 or so. Fascinatingly, they seem to have included Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March No.1. Preiser doesn’t include everything that survives, as clearly there’s no room for La forza. Also missing are the Schumann Manfred overture, some Marinuzzi arrangements, some snippets from his music, and other smaller items from the Italian operatic repertory.
The selection of 78s is limited largely to overtures, which indicates the main focus of his musical life, opera, without going to the expense of recording complete sets. The Barber of Seville is well pointed with prominent winds, whilst La Gazza ladra is very characterfully done at a sustained, quite slow tempo, with the percussion at times almost explosively present. L´Assedio di Corinto is tautly expressive, and the overture to Norma no less so, with trenchant drama, though there’s a very obvious slowing down at 4:22 into the side turn. Both these last two were part of the Telefunken series in 1942. Rich portamenti inform the Intermezzo from Manon Lescaut and there’s a deftly warm Intermezzo from Cavalleria rusticana. It’s good to hear the extract from Giordano’s Siberia (Italian HMV, 1936), and the scuffing on the 78 used is only minimally invasive. Given the conductor’s work on behalf of Pizzetti it’s valuable to find an example from Fedra (Telefunken, 1941), played with resplendent command, and in particular the brief ritornello passage from Wolf-Ferrari’s Il Campiello not least because Marinuzzi premiered the work. There’s a pleasing example of the conductor’s own rich, romantically burnished work with a four minute ‘bonus’ from a Telefunken session in 1942.
Preiser has been responsible for a nice slice of restoration work with these quite rare sides. Marinuzzi should be far better known than he is, which is to say largely not at all.
Jonathan Woolf

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