Classical Reissue Reviews

Gino Marinuzzi = ROSSINI: Il Barbiere di Siviglia Overture; La Gazza ladra Overture; L’Assedio di Corinto Overture; BELLINI: Norma Overture; VERDI: I Vespri sciliani Overture; PUCCINI: Manon Lescaut: Intermezzo, Act 3; MASCAGNI: Cavalleria rusticana: Intermezzo; Le Maschere Overture; GIORDANO: Siberia – La Pasqua; PIZZETTI: Fedra; WOLF-FERRARI: Il Campiello: Ritornello Act 3; MARINUZZI: Musiche per I trionfi Sforza & Savoia – Rito Nuziale – Orch. del Teatro alla Scala, Milano/ Gino Marinuzzi – Preiser Records

A conductor-composer of potent abilities, Gino Marinuzzi traverses a series of opera overtures and excerpts that demands a second look at an under-rated talent.

Published on May 8, 2013

Gino Marinuzzi = ROSSINI: Il Barbiere di Siviglia Overture; La Gazza ladra Overture; L’Assedio di Corinto Overture; BELLINI: Norma Overture; VERDI: I Vespri sciliani Overture; PUCCINI: Manon Lescaut: Intermezzo, Act 3; MASCAGNI: Cavalleria rusticana: Intermezzo; Le Maschere Overture; GIORDANO: Siberia – La Pasqua; PIZZETTI: Fedra; WOLF-FERRARI: Il Campiello: Ritornello Act 3; MARINUZZI: Musiche per I trionfi Sforza & Savoia – Rito Nuziale – Orch. del Teatro alla Scala, Milano/ Gino Marinuzzi – Preiser Records

Gino Marinuzzi = ROSSINI: Il Barbiere di Siviglia Overture; La Gazza ladra Overture; L’Assedio di Corinto Overture; BELLINI: Norma Overture; VERDI: I Vespri sciliani Overture; PUCCINI: Manon Lescaut: Intermezzo, Act 3; MASCAGNI: Cavalleria rusticana: Intermezzo; Le Maschere Overture; GIORDANO: Siberia – La Pasqua; PIZZETTI: Fedra; WOLF-FERRARI: Il Campiello: Ritornello Act 3; MARINUZZI: Musiche per I trionfi Sforza & Savoia – Rito Nuziale – Orch. del Teatro alla Scala, Milano/ Gino Marinuzzi – Preiser Records PR93486, 78:45 [Distr. by Albany] ****:

While never a serious rival to Arturo Toscanini, conductor Gino Marinuzzi (1882-1945) did command several important posts in Italy, France, and Argentina, and he won the devoted admiration of Puccini and Busoni. Marinuzzi acquired a powerful repertory, including a good deal of German repertory, particularly in the music of Wagner, Orff, and Richard Strauss. The collection presented by Preiser includes inscriptions Marinuzzi made for Telefunken and HMV, 1936-1942. According to Riccardo Muti, Marinuzzi’s style reveals a combination of “dramatic force and elegance of phrasing,” that includes a “luster in the violins” that is a characteristic of “great artistic sensitivity and a passionate temperament, free of any superficial emphasis.”

The program begins with three Rossini staples: The Barber of Seville Overture (1941), The Thieving Magpie (1936), and The Siege at Corinth (1941). We could wish for more forward sound from the recording process of the time, but the transparency and power of the conducting shines through these shellacs. The Barber and Thieving Magpie communicate striking ensemble, a generous legato and bel canto phraseology, and a piercing sense of dynamics. But for me the real contender among Rossini performances is The Siege of Corinth Overture, grandly mounted and dramatically resonant at every turn. Marinuzzi whips up his violins into a sizzling frenzy without heaviness, the violins tip-toe in scintillating colors. We might detect a sense of German earnestness in the phrasing – more so in La Gazza ladra – but the execution proves so lithe and resilient that gravity seems an afterthought.

Muti himself selects the Norma Overture of Bellini (1941) for special mention, a viscerally exciting performance, one that generates a nervous tension from the outset. Marinuzzi brings out the special colors of his woodwinds over the delicate pizzicati in the strings, the processional interrupted by passionate rockets in the full string complement, bolstered by pipes and brass. With the addition of the harp runs the music assumes a mystique quite compelling, a sound garnered by few conductors, although in Italian music-making I would proffer Victor de Sabata as a decided rival. For taut and suspenseful drama, try Marinuzzi’s 1941 Overture to The Sicilian Vespers of Verdi, certainly a fine complement to the Toscanini renditions, rife with latent fury and agonized resignation. The ardently fluid cello line alone warrants the price of admission to this Marinuzzi concert. The range of colors – from shimmering high strings to a truly enkindled battery – strikes us as controlled by a master of chiaroscuro, the art of Caravaggio applied to the musical canvas.

With the music of Puccini, the Third Act Intermezzo from Manon Lescaut (rec. 1936 for HMV), we enter a special sound, measured and lovingly etched. The color and sweep – resonant with rich slides in the strings – of the melodic line mount with a resilient passion certainly equal to the throes of Wagner’s Tristan (of which Marinuzzi gave the first South American performance). The famed Intermezzo from Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana from the same HMV session, 1936, yields up the same vibrant energy, warmly breathed through long vocal phrases. The Overture to Mascagni’s La Maschere (for Telefunken, 1941) provides a real rarity from the opera world, a fleet orchestral piece that soon soars into a substantial melody via warm middle and lower strings. The Siberia sequence from Giordano (for HMV 1936) has a delicately scored, exotic, slightly martial coloring that reminds me of the score for Capra’s movie Lost Horizon. A minor excerpt from Wolf-Ferrari’s Il Campielo (HMV, 1936) concludes Marinuzzi’s excursions into the works of other composers: lightweight, the piece offers a diaphanously sly waltz in diaphanous colors, with a lulling flute part. If the music sounds like The Carnival of Venice, it is likely not coincidental.

Given Marinuzzi’s efforts on behalf of composer Ildebrando Pizzetti, the appearance of the Fedra Overture (from Telefunken, 1941) makes a fascinating addition. The music seems derived from Debussy, hazy and harmonically ambiguous, perhaps nodding also to the post-Romantic scoring for La Peri by Dukas. Long shimmering phrases, portamento strings, suspended harmonies: again, we feel impulses from Debussy and Wagner at once, the sultry mix a hothouse of colors and erotic innuendos. Gino Marinuzzi the composer hardly gleans much air time of musical credit these days, so an opportunity to hear his Rito Nuziale (from Telefunken, 1942) affords us a rare glimpse into a style easily comparable to that of Respighi. Boldly assertive, brassy, yet marked by an “antique” gravitas, the processional certainly exhibits the touch of a master orchestrator. Again, like his compatriot de Sabata, a Marinuzzi awaits a major reconsideration by modern ears. And when we contemplate the number of sides Marinuzzi recorded that this Preiser collection restores, we conclude that a companion disc is warranted.

—Gary Lemco




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