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  BIS -
  Respighi: Roman Trilogy - Neschling
  Ottorino Respighi: Fontane di Roma, Pini di Roma, Feste Romane

Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra
John Neschling (conductor)
Track listing:
  Classical - Orchestral
Recording type:
Recording info:

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Related titles: 1

Reviews: 7 show all

Site review by Geohominid August 14, 2011
Performance:   Sonics:    
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Review by jeff3948 December 10, 2010 (13 of 15 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
I listened to this multi-channel SACD in 5.0 surround sound. BIS does not use the .1 LFE channel, so no sub-woofer was used. I used a volume setting of -16db on my Denon AVR-3805 receiver, Denon DVD-3910 SACD player and my 5 speakers that are rated at overall 90db efficiency. This setting for me achieved live performance volume based on my live concert attendances in the seats behind the orchestra at Symphony Center in Chicago.

I was first struck by the Sao Paulo Hall's warm and rich sound character. In fact, from this recording I can tell it is one of the most acoustically perfect halls in the world. It's similar in sound to the Boston Symphonic Hall and the Musikverein in Vienna. The reverberation from Sao Paulo Hall (Sala São Paulo) is just about perfect at about 2 to 3 seconds which for me adds so much to the large space image and big emotions of this recording. These works by Respighi are among my most favorite and I have many recordings of them; Ozawa with BSO (CD), Tortelier with the Philharmonia (CD), De Waart with San Francisco(CD), Dutoit with Montreal(CD), Reiner with Chicago (SACD), and Que with Minnesota (HDCD). All have their strengths and weaknesses, but, the brass sound of this recording blends so beautifully together it is the most gorgeous, realistic and dark bronzy sounding I've heard on any SACD or CD. And when the building and climax came along on the Appian Way, my entire body was literally shaking and heaving from the incredibly inspiring emotion that this recording and performance stirred in my soul and tears started to flow from the overwhelming experience. I really wonder if they actually used original buccines (ancient trumpets) called for in the score as I've never heard the brass of Festivals and Pines sound this earthy before! The buccines are usually represented by modern flugelhorns and saxhorns. During the Pines of Rome and Festivals the brass come to you from the front AND rear channels which makes wonderful use of the multi-channel SACD format! Also, the trumpets did not hurt my ears even at loud volumes, like some of the other recordings do. Overall the recording has that you-are-there realism that SACD is famous for. John Neschling, the conductor, keeps a tight rein and controls the entire orchestra as if it were one. The natural sounding and elegant beauty of the quite passages in all three works is breathtaking. In fact, the musicianship of the orchestra is one of the best of all the recordings I have. For instance Dutoit's horns fumble slightly in places. Que's brass has a slight misstep during the finally of Pines. I could not find any fault in the Sao Paulo brass. Also, the performances from the winds of the Sao Paulo Symphony are superb and the strings sound lush. If I had to find a fault, it's with the recording engineer, the bass drum at the very end of the Appian Way could have used a little more impact as well as more volume for the 32' organ pedal notes during the Catacombs and the 32' pedal thumps depicting the ground trembling under the army's feet marching along the Appian Way. (Does the Sao Paulo Hall even have a 32' pipe? I researched this on the internet and could not even find out if the Sao Paulo Hall has a pipe organ in it at all.) It's really too bad that BIS has decided as a rule not to use the LFE .1 channel because here it could have been used to GREAT effect! But don't make too much of this criticism, the climaxes still make an incredable impact. In fact the finally of Pines is the best of all the recordings I have. If this doesn't win the Grammy than nothing should! Thank you BIS!

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Review by Jonalogic November 4, 2010 (11 of 17 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
I have been looking forward to this one for some time, and am happy to report I was not disappointed.

OK, I confess to dumping mightily on the last BIS recording I had heard (the woeful - IMO - Walton symphonies) but I'm pleased to report that this one comes from a different planet altogether.

The music first. I was brought up on the classic Reiner/CSO Pines and Fountains - a difficult act to follow! Muti, Dutoit and others have also provided notable efforts. But Neschling and his fine, upcoming Sao Paulo Symphony take a different tack altogether, playing the Roman Trilogy more 'straight' as music and less as a vehicle for virtuoso fireworks.

Yes, I admit missing the precision and power of the Reiner (also, notably, a very fine sounding Living Stereo), together with the terrifyingly leaden, implacable trudge of its legions down the Appian Way to end 'Pines'. However, the Neschling offers many compensations. Not least the alarmingly OTT final contribution to the Roman Trilogy - Feste Romane. Frankly, I think there is room for both approaches and recordings in any collection.

And the sound impresses mightily, too. Spacious, clear, transparent, and with huge dynamics, this matches and carries the music effortlessly.

Far be it from me to recommend antisocial behaviour, but play this one loud. VERY loud. Only, don't complain to me when the neighbours come knocking...

Strongly recommended. And - yes - nice cover art.

PS Now I'm really looking forward to some Hindemith from these forces. May I humbly suggest:

1) Mathis der Maler - of course - still scandalously absent from SACD
2) Symphonic Metamorphoses on a theme of Carl Maria von Weber
3) The Walton Variations on a Theme of Hindemith (the theme coming from 'Mathis', of course)

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Works: 3  

Ottorino Respighi - Feste Romane (Roman Festivals), P. 157
Ottorino Respighi - Fontane di Roma (Fountains of Rome), P. 106
Ottorino Respighi - Pini di Roma (Pines of Rome), P. 141