Malipiero: Violin Concertos & Per una favola cavalleresca / Symphonic Orchestra of Rome

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This release couples Gian Francesco Malipiero’s two contrasting violin concertos with the world premiere recording of his kaleidoscopic orchestral work Per una favola cavalleresca, evoking legendary scenes of love, tournaments, battles, moonbeams and heroes. Malipiero’s First Violin Concerto is one of his most beautiful and joyful works, a remarkable achievement for a composer who is said to have played the violin badly in his youth. His Second Violin Concerto, written 30 years later, sounds astonishingly different on a first hearing, but reveals itself to be inspired by the same lyrical impulse as the earlier concerto.


Naxos/Marco Polo have been staunch allies of Malipiero of yore. Their example has been all the more admirable since their advocacy dates from a decade or more after the composer’s death. First, they recorded all the symphonies - and there are lots of them - in Russia on Marco Polo. These were done largely with the far too easily overlooked Antonio de Almeida (1928-1997). That multiple-CD series has been reissued on Naxos.

His First Violin Concerto (1932) is in the accustomed furiously confident three movements. There’s no hint of neo-classicism or museum-rigid “Alte Stil”. This is fast-flowing music where the orchestra keep pace with the ardent solo, here played with unblinking skill by Paolo Chiavacci. The writing is juicy and its probing ardour continues into the central Lento and the nicely rounded finale. This is a work and performance that, for me, never descends into tedium.

Per una favola cavalleresca (For a chivalric tale) is in four movements and is the earliest piece here. It is claimed to be inspired by legendary scenes of love, tournaments, battles, moon-beams and burials of heroes, possibly with links to a Malipero opera Lancelotto del Lago. It’s the longest work here, in four unnamed movements, across half an hour. It’s masterfully orchestrated with no strata of the orchestra wasted. Romantic to the hilt and occasionally voluptuous in the familiar manner of Respighi, as in his Ballad of the Gnomes. Even within these bounds it is a full-lipped piece yet with plenty of nocturnal facets as in parts of the third movement. Written at about the same time as Sibelius’s Suite mignonne which, at least in its titles, has its chivalric overtones, it is a very different. The Malipiero is more head-on and drips with juice as you can hear with the no-holds-barred brass fanfaring of the highly coloured finale. One can easily read into this the betrayal of Arthur and his anger, even if the work and the movement does end in a romantic glow.

Malipero wastes nothing - no time beating of useless filler material - both this and the second concerto are over and done with in about twenty minutes. The second - quite a short piece at 19:35 - is cooler. It was written a decade before the composer’s death and confronts a very different world order from the First. It is by no means devoid of passion. Even so, darker emotions are in play. The soloist has to make speedy headway. Disillusion inflects the central non troppo lento which is lichen-hung. The finale is another work of testing virtuosity, but brusque.

Another point to make is that these works, especially the First concerto and the Cavalleresca at times seem wrung from the same harmonic material as Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending but always stand in their own right.

A Malipiero genre admirably tackled by the familiar La Vecchia and his orchestra. They have been most agreeably performed and recorded.

--MusicWeb International (Rob Barnett)

Product Description:

  • Release Date: June 10, 2022

  • Catalog Number: 8573075

  • UPC: 747313307579

  • Label: Naxos

  • Number of Discs: 1

  • Period: 20th Century

  • Composer: Gian Francesco Malipiero

  • Conductor: Francesco La Vecchia

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Symphonic Orchestra of Rome

  • Performer: Paolo Chiavacci


  1. Violin Concerto No. 1

    Composer: Gian Francesco Malipiero

    Ensemble: Orchestra Sinfonica di Roma

    Performer: Paolo Chiavacci (Violin)

    Conductor: Francesco La Vecchia

  2. Per una favola cavalleresca

    Composer: Gian Francesco Malipiero

    Ensemble: Orchestra Sinfonica di Roma

    Conductor: Francesco La Vecchia

  3. Violin Concerto No. 2

    Composer: Gian Francesco Malipiero

    Ensemble: Orchestra Sinfonica di Roma

    Performer: Paolo Chiavacci (Violin)

    Conductor: Francesco La Vecchia