Fine Arts Quartet Records Works by ‘Golden Age’ Master Violinist-composers

The internationally renowned Fine Arts Quartet (violinists Ralph Evans and Efim Boico, cellist Wolfgang Laufer, and violist Nicolò Eugelmi) has just recorded 3 rarities by ‘Golden Age’ master violinist-composers: the world premiere recording of Efrem Zimbalist’s Quartet in E Minor … Read More →

Enrico Bronzi on the Music of Nino Rota

I have long been a fan of Italian film music of the 60’s and 70’s. Rota was truely one of the most important and influential composers of his generation, the generation that would influence such greats as Ennio Morricone, Bruno Nicolai and many others. Rota of course (like many other film composers) had a “Classical Music” side to his work. I had a chance to chat with conductor Enrico Bronzi about his disc of Rota Concertos on the Concerto label.

Enrico, can you tell us a little bit about the Rota project? What inspired you to make this recording? Why these particular compositions?
For a while now I have been looking for an opportunity to study the Concerto n. 2 for cello. So when the Musici di Parma asked me to join them in a project regarding Rota, naturally my reaction was to join them immediately. This recording brings together all aspects of my life as a musician: chamber music, work as a soloist and conducting.

Can you describe for us where Nino Rota fits in the Italian Music Landscape (historically speaking)?
Rota’s music is like breathing Italian air. His vocation for melody originates in the lyric traditions of my hometown. Often his music is tinged with a typically Mediterranean mood. It can be playful: in it he frequently alludes to particular sounds, such as a band from southern Italy or the circus. However, he does know where the limits lie and it is done with a gentlemanliness, which keeps everything from becoming mere imitation. And this sense of ‘moderation in all things’ is part of the education of that refined aristocrat from the south, which is a part of the foundations of our culture.

What do you see as being Rota’s most important compositions outside of the film works? What makes these pieces important?
Rota’s concert music is contiguous with his music for film. It is sophisticated music that has absorbed all of the lessons of European music. And yet it is not music that feigns solemnity or zeal. When Morricone writes ‘serious’ music, he does it disowning the poetry of his film music. Rota, on the other hand, just enlarges and reinforces the poetic structure of his pieces. We never get the impression that the joy exuding from his enormous melodic streak is running out.

What would you like this recording you’ve made to achieve both in Italy and abroad?
I hope this recording will be considered a step toward rediscovering this great composer’s recorded music. Many have begun to re-evaluate all angles of his music and I believe the public will not have to work at all to appreciate him. I am thinking of some rather silly and useless criticisms leveled at Poulenc. In the end the coherence of these authors is worth more than an aesthetic credo or the poorly placed problems regarding the avant-garde. Let it be understood I am a big fan of a wide variety of very different composers, such as Zimmermann, Ligeti, Kurtag. Our age is a Tower of Babel of different and diverse languages. But if we know how to listen we will be able to understand the beauty that can be found in opposites.

While some people in America are familiar with Rota’s film music, by and large his “Classical Compositions” still remain somewhat obscure (when speaking in terms of the “Classical mainstream”), why do you think this is?
For many years, in Europe, there was, basically, a kind of censorship regarding this composer who was so far removed from any of the beacons of the avant-garde in the last century. Given that 20th century American music is not so very different from Rota’s aesthetic cannons, I think that, in the United States, he could be warmly welcomed. For people who enjoy Copland or Bernstein, admiring Rota’s spontaneous and luminous music should come naturally.

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In Troubled Times: The Case for the Arts

I recently received an essay written by JoAnn Falletta, conductor of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, regarding the place of classical music and the arts in this troubled economy. See below for her excellent essay. I am a musician. I have known … Read More →

OCR: Classical Music and Smart Kids

   Here is an article from OC Register by Timothy Mangan on the benefits of Classical Music. The following are three of the albums from the mentioned “Listen, Learn and Grow” series: Listen, Learn and Grow: Playtime Imagination, Listen, Learn … Read More →

Podcast: Leopold Mozart’s Toy Symphony (and other delights)

Leopold Mozart is best known as the father of his son, Wolftang Amadeus Mozart. Although he was completely overshadowed by his brilliant son, he was a fine composer in his own right. This podcast looks at a new CD of … Read More →