From the opening measures of this Naxos CD, you’ll be thinking Respighi. The likeness may not last very long, but it’s meaningful. The music is by Luigi Mancinelli (1848-1921) and includes the world premiere recording of his Scene Veneziane Suite (Venetian Scenes) (1889), and excerpts from the incidental music to Cleopatra (1877). Performances are by Francesco La Vecchia and the Orchestra Sinfonica di Roma who have been involved in some related and highly successful projects lately, most notably the half dozen or so Naxos CDs devoted to the music of Alfredo Casella.
Older than his compatriots Luigi Martucci, Alfredo Casella and Ottorino Respighi, Mancinelli pioneered the revitalization of Italian orchestral music in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Although the opening of the CD sounds very much like Respighi, Mancinelli wrote it when Respighi was ten years old! Composing music was not his primary occupation. Mancinelli began his musical career as a cellist and entered the conducting profession rather abruptly, standing in for conductor Emilio Usiglio, who had gotten himself totally plastered an hour before the curtain was to rise on a performance of Aida. Mancinelli was a hit, and a conducting career was born that would take him as far as Covent Garden and the Metropolitan Opera.
While there’s nothing profound here, Mancinelli’s music is tuneful, colorfully orchestrated and very enjoyable – albeit he does overwork his themes at times, most notably in the Scene veneziane. Still, this is fetching music that is highly successful in the charm department, and if you don’t mind a little too much of a good thing occasionally, there’s much to enjoy. With the kind support of Naxos, the sample I’ve provided is Ritorno in gondola from the Venetian Scenes. Give it a listen, and I’d wager you’ll want to hear more.
Of the composers who inaugurated the renaissance of Italian instrumental music in the late nineteenth century, Luigi Mancinelli is probably the least well-known. Older than Martucci, Respighi and Casella, he was in the vanguard of that creative resurgence. As a conductor he was admired by Wagner and Verdi, and as a composer he wrote music of sophistication and style, such as the colourful and touching Scene veneziane (Scenes of Venice). The music for Cleopatra shows why, in its increased complexity, Mancinelli was admired for his orchestral mastery.
1. No. 1. Carnovale: Allegro brillante 00:06:07
2. No. 2. Dichiarazione d’amore: Andante sostenuto 00:05:26
3. No. 3. Fuga degli Amanti a Chioggia: Scherzo 00:03:53
4. No. 4. Ritorno in Gondola: Andante con moto 00:07:33
5. No. 5. Cerimonia e Danza di Nozze: Lento (Tempo di marcia religiosa) 00:13:08
Intermezzi sinfonici per la tragedia Cleopatra (excerpts)
6. No. 1. Ouverture 00:09:27
7. No. 3. Battaglia di Azio 00:12:03
Total Playing Time: 00:57:37
Composer: Luigi Mancinelli
Luigi Mancinelli (1848 – 1921) was a leading Italian orchestral conductor. He also composed music for the stage and concert hall and played the cello.Mancinelli was on the conductors’ roster of the New York Metropolitan Opera for 10 years, ending in 1903. In that capacity he conducted 531 performances of a variety of mainstream operas by Italian, French and German composers; but, in 1899, he led a performance of his own opera, Ero e Leandro.
Conductor: Francesco La Vecchia
“…If it is true that the history of Italian music has been marked by performers who have represented our culture with pride on the world stage, it is also true for orchestral conducting. In Francesco La Vecchia, it has found the greatest expression of such pride, and innate, skilful artistic talent…” – Giancarlo Arientoli – Segni d’Arte
Orchestra: Orchestra Sinfonica di Roma
Just ten years since its inception – ant it has always operated in the absence of public funding – the Orchestra Sinfonica di Roma is already considered by international critics as one of the most qualified European symphony orchestras. The Rome Symphony Orchestra was founded in 2002 at the conclusion of a Course Professional Training given by the European Parliament at the Arts Academy of Rome.