Following their acclaimed Beethoven set on the Yellow Label, violinist Francesca Dego and pianist Francesca Leonardi have come up with an absolute charmer of a disc which sets Stravinsky’s neo-classical Suite Italienne against works by two composers from Italy’s Generazione dell’Ottanta. The best known of the group – all born in the 1880s, hence the name – is Respighi, whose three symphonic poems are orchestral mainstays. His Violin Sonata, which opens this program, combines French melodic charm with Germanic romantic sweep, all with distinctive Italian accents.

Less performed are the works of Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, best known today for the guitar works he composed for Segovia. The son of a Florentine Jewish banker, he settled in America to escape Mussolini and was part of the circle that included Heifetz, who commissioned a concerto for violin and piano as well as championing his chamber works. The album includes the premiere recording of the Ballade for violin and piano, composed for Tossy Spivakovsky, and is worth the price alone.

When Diaghilev suggested Pergolesi as the model for the ballet Pulcinella, Stravinsky thought him “deranged”, but he looked at the scores and “fell in love”. It marked the beginning of Stravinsky’s Neo-Classical period. An inspired and captivating album of rediscovered gems brought into the warmth of the Italian sun.

Composer: Respighi, Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Stravinsky
Composition: Violin Sonata in B Minor, Ballade, Rosina Fantasia, Figaro Fantasia, Violetta Fantasia 
Performer: Francesca Dego v, Francesca Leonardi p
Catalogue Number: DG 4817297

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