RENDINE: Symphony No. 1 (2006). Symphony No. 2 "Andorrana" (2007).
Orquestra Nacional Clássica d'Andorra (ONCA)/Marzio Conti.
Naxos 8.572039 (B) (DDD) TT: 61:11.
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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
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
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
century. To mention these works in the same breath as Shostakovich,
Prokofiev, Hindemith, Schoenberg, Stravinsky, and even Henze does Rendine
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.
S.G.S. (October 2008)