Luigi MANCINELLI (1848-1921)
Scene veneziane - Suite (1889) [36:07]
Cleopatra - Sei intermezzi sinfonici (1877) - No. 1 Overture
[9:27]; No. 3 Battaglia d’Azio [12:03]
Orchestra Sinfonica di Roma/Francesco La Vecchia
rec. Auditorium di Via Conciliazione, Rome, 27-28 November, 18-19 December
NAXOS 8.573074 [57:37]
If the name of Luigi Mancinelli rings bells with
you it is probably as an operatic conductor. Like Toscanini and Barbirolli
he had started as a cellist, and it may not be too fanciful to imagine
that the combination of the discipline of the pit together with experience
of the stringed instrument with the most singing line will have stood
all three in good stead in that most complex of roles. Mancinelli conducted
all over Italy before going also to Covent Garden, the Metropolitan
and the Teatro Colon among other international houses.
You may also remember the name for his four operas but the present disc
offers instead one and a half of his orchestral works. The longer work,
and that presented complete, is the Scene veneziane, a Suite
in five movements depicting in turn the experiences of a couple meeting
at a carnival, falling in love, visiting the coastal town of Chioggia,
returning by gondola and eventually marrying. The music is colourful
and, as you might expect, wonderfully well orchestrated. Right from
the start there are reminders of the music of Respighi although as the
latter was only ten when this Suite was written perhaps it would be
more correct to say that Respighi’s music reminds one of Mancinelli.
Either way the results are extremely enjoyable even if it is not the
kind of music that burns itself into your memory.
I was however looking forward even more to hearing the music deriving
from incidental music to the tragedy by Pietro Cossa, Cleopatra.
I have had a set of parts of the Overture for many years - wrongly entitled
there as the Overture to an Opera - which looked particularly intriguing.
So it proved, from its quiet opening to other sections full of sound
and fury. Like all the music on the disc it could be described as overlong
for its ideas, but that it is well written and that the ideas are seldom
dull is undeniable. There is understandably more sound and fury in the
battle scene but here too there is a real sense of drama and storytelling.
This is helped by committed performances and a recording which is never
less than adequate in these often heavily scored works.
On the evidence of this disc I would hesitate to add Mancinelli to the
top ranks of Italian composers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth
century composers, but what is included here is certainly worth exploring
if you have a taste for the music of, say, Respighi or Boito.