Being a composer is serious business. Yes indeed. Writing a symphony demands full mastery of the material at hand, which in this case is music, as intangible and abstract a medium as can be,
and a stoic discipline to see its creation to the very end. A case in point is this composer's Symphony No. 3, Op. 63. Serious business indeed. But once in a while, by flexing his orchestration muscle and
letting loose his imagination, a composer with the stature of Alfredo Casella (1883-1947) can have as much fun as a five year old playing with a dump truck in a sandbox. Italia, Op.11,
a symphonic rhapsody to his native country, is a single movement orchestral work segmented into four individual episodes, each of them depicting varying facets of
Italian life. The final segment in particular, based on the uber Italian song Funiculi funicula, really gets the adrenalin going
and the heart pumping. It starts off with a straight forward rendition of the popular tune which gradually, through Casella's great skill, turns into what sounds like an
epic Wagnerian tragedy on a grand scale, shifts moods, and gets whipped up into a frenzy of orchestral punch and sparkle that, when played loud, will leave a big grin on your face.
What else would you expect from tempo indications like Allegro furioso and Vertiginoso. The final minute or so will make you glad you're alive. I've never heard the BBC Philharmonic sound so good.
As for the aforementioned symphony, it's serious business alright. But hey, that is obviously right up Casella's alley. (See Symphony No. 2). He was a great admirer of Gustav Mahler and the influence is
undeniable. The Andante molto slow movement plumbs the same harmonic depths as the late Mahler symphonies, and the Scherzo shares the
same demented and demonic twists and idiosyncracies. Great music, masterfully orchestrated. Highly recommended!