Today is Ottorino Respighi’s birthday! He would be 131 years old today! So to celebrate, we wanted to highlight one of our albums. And you guessed it, it’s the Grammy Nominated recording of Eiji Oue and the Minnesota Orchestra performing Respighi!
Grammy® Nominated: Best Engineered Album, Classical
Keith O. Johnson, Engineer
“Dazzling orchestral colors,” is one one way to describe the music of Ottorino Respighi. “Belkis, Queen of Sheba” was conceived as an evening-long ballet with singing whose lavishness has kept it from view since its La Scala premiere. This is only the second recording of a suite prepared by the composer – for the first time with the tenor solo (sung by Chad Shelton), and with the movements in the correct order. The music’s oriental perfumes and barbaric splendor guarantee the enthusiasm of anyone who hears it. “Dance of the Gnomes” is a little-known but characteristically dramatic and colorful (some might say “lurid”) tone poem. “Prof.” Johnson’s stunning HDCD¬ sonics make Respighi’s greatest hit “The Pines of Rome” (with extra brasses and organ!) a dazzling conclusion to this unusual, inventive program.
“Oue plays each piece to the hilt; I cannot imagine more precise, more lovingly conducted performances. As for the recording, I’m running out of superlatives – it is brilliant and weighty, with tremendous undistorted dynamics.”–Peter Aczel, THE AUDIO CRITIC
Selected by SoundStage!.com as “Best Audiophile Recording, 2001”
“This CD is a bonanza for fans of Respighi, of orchestral spectaculars, and of great demo music . . .The Reference team of Tam Henderson and Keith Johnson continues to set the bar for orchestral recording. . . It offers a challenge for your system and nourishment for your imagination. Unless you’re one of those unfortunates who don’t enjoy large-scale orchestral music, this is a must-have.” – Wayne Donnelly, LISTENER
“Respighi has not sounded like this on discs since — well, let’s say since never before. . . Of the seven Oue/Minnesota CDs I know, this is easily the grandest, musically as well as sonically.” — Roger Dettmer, ClassicalCDReviews
“This is exceptional work, even by Reference Recordings’ own high standards. To the expected dynamic range, low-frequency definition, and clear imaging — all by now hallmarks of digital processing — this disc adds a gratifying sense of breathing space around the instrumental sound, such as was previously only heard on specially mastered LPs. The crescendos don’t merely get louder — the textures fill out and blossom. The climaxes surge without taking on a glossy veneer. The brass reproduction, minus the hard edge that frequently passes for “impact,” is particularly open and airy, but the soft music is equally, tangibly vivid.” — Steve Vasta, CDNOW
“Stunning accounts of BELKIS and PINES OF ROME.” — Haller, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE
“Colorful,thrilling performances of BELKIS, as Respighi would have preferred, and of the quirky gnomes piece, delivered in superb sound, makes this a compulsory purchase for every Respighi devotee.” — Ian Lace, FANFARE (Also, chosen for his WISH LIST — one of the five best releases of 2001.)
“This is an absolutely splendid PINES OF ROME, in top-of-the-line sound. And for heaven’s sake, let it all hang out! Turn the volume way up, open your doors and windows, and give your neighbors a treat.” — King Durkee, Copley News Service