Respighi: Transcriptions of Bach and Rachmaninoff

March 2, 2021, 9:00 am

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The success of Ottorino Respighi’s “Roman Trilogy” brought the composer international fame as an outstanding orchestrator. One side effect of this are the orchestral transcriptions gathered on this album: all made in 1929-30 and commissioned by eminent conductors such as Arturo Toscanini and Serge Koussevitzky for their American orchestras. Respighi’s wide-ranging musical tastes included an interest in early music which probably contributed to him taking on the task of transcribing organ works by Bach – or creating “orchestral interpretations” as he called the results. For Koussevitzky and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Respighi transcribed five of Rachmaninoff’s Études-Tableaux for solo piano. Although these are programmatic pieces, their subject matter had not been disclosed in the editions for piano, but Rachmaninoff revealed his inspiration to Respighi in order to help him “find the appropriate colors.”