Respighi, Ottorino – Concerto in modo misolidio per pianoforte ed orchestra »Omnes gentes plaudite manibus« (1925)
The Concerto in modo misolidio for piano and orchestra stands alongside the Concerto gregoriano for violin and orchestra (Repertoire Explorer Study Score 149) as Ottorino Respighi’s most significant and ambitious contribution to the genre of the solo concerto. Both works were especially dear to the composer; in both he was certain that he had given his best; and he thought both capable of remaining permanently in the repertoire. Sadly, neither has done so. The reason is not to be found in the quality of the music, which belongs to the most substantial ever to proceed from his pen. One reason for their relatively slight success is surely that neither was published by Respighi’s principal publisher, Ricordi. The Concerto gregoriano of 1921 was issued the following year by Universal Edition, as was a work of similar stylistic posture and ambition, the string quartet Quartetto dorico of 1924 (published 1925). The Concerto in modo misolidio of 1925 was issued in full score by Bote & Bock of Berlin in 1926 and appears here for the first time in a study format, faithfully reproduced from the first edition. As neither Universal nor Bote & Bock acquired many of Respighi’s works, they did not concern themselves on a long term basis with their distribution and were perfectly willing, after the initial somewhat unfriendly reviews, to lessen their commitment to the music. Thus it happened that the Concerto gregoriano is only occasionally, and the Concerto in modo misolidio extremely rarely, to be heard in the concert hall and the latter in particular is poorly represented on disc. Perhaps this will change in the future now that the copyright has expired and performances will be less expensive.
The Concerto in modo misolidio was composed during a very exciting period in Respighi’s life. On 13 January 1919 he had married his former student Elsa Respighi-Sangiacomo (1894-1996), and in these years he began increasingly to cultivate his penchant for early music. His special interest lay in Gregorian chant, which he now studied with utmost alacrity. Elsa Respighi, in Ottorino Respighi: dati biografici ordinati (Ricordi: Milan, 1962), describes this as follows:
“In a few days Respighi had learnt all I knew and much more besides. It became quite a craze with him. Not a day passed but he asked me to intone a passage from the Roman Gradual while he listened spellbound. The Maestro was considerably influenced by this music, for there echoes of Gregorian Chant in almost everything he wrote after 1920. The Three Piano Preludes on Gregorian Melodies [Tre preludi sopra melodie gregoriane] were completed a few months later at Capri in the summer of 1919 and brightly reflect Respighi’s state of mind at the time – delighted wonder at a revelation and the mystic exaltation of profound religious feeling which matched the harmony of our life together. The Maestro told me then how wonderful it would be to recast those magnificent melodies in a new language of sounds, free them from the rigidly formal Catholic liturgy of the Roman Gradual and revive the indestructible germ of real human values contained therein.”
For more information on the piece:
Read preface to the full score / das Vorwort zur Partitur lesen > HERE