* Symphony No. 1 (2006)
* Symphony No. 2 "Andorrana" (2007)
Orquestra Nacional Classica d'Andorra (ONCA)/Marzio Conti
Naxos 8.572039 Total time: 61:11.
Summary for the Busy Executive: Empty calories.
I yield to no one in my admiration for Naxos's breadth in exploring
obscure repertoire. Often the label finds treasures, but even so one
must admit it has also uncovered a lot of mediocrity. This is, I'm
afraid, one of those times.
The liner notes go on about how the symphony is in trouble and how so
few composers know how to compose a true symphony and similar nonsense.
I can name off the top of my head five practicing symphonists well worth
hearing and all far more interesting than Sergio Rendine. I suspect
this is a new way of rehashing the tired tonal-vs.-atonal debate. Of
course, if I actually named a symphonist, the (anonymous) writer can
always rejoin with "But he or she is not a true symphonist," simply
because the writer seems to consider Stravinsky's Symphony in Three
Movements outside the genre, although damned if I know why. Certainly,
no one has bothered to tell me.
There's nothing wrong with these symphonies, but there's nothing
heart-stopping about them either. A certain brightness of orchestration
reminded me a bit of Rodrigo, but without Rodrigo's poetry and bite and
sense of particularity. These symphonies could have been written anywhere
and at any time after, say, 1900. Curiously, the best movements (like
the slow second of the First Symphony or the opening of the Second) are
also the most conservative, like Hamilton Harty in the early part of
the twentieth century. To mention these works in the same breath as
Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Hindemith, Schoenberg, Stravinsky, and even
Henze does Rendine no favors.
Conti and his Andorrans do well enough, faced with a minimal challenge.
The sound is Naxos's usual -- no worse than most, but not really
significantly better -- firmly within acceptable present standards.
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