Respighi – Trittico Botticelliano

by Max Derrickson

Ottorino Respighi – 1879-1936

Trittico Botticelliano
1. La Primavera
2. L’Adorazione dei Magi
3. La Nascita di Venere

The Italian composer Ottorino Respighi, 1879-1936, is often treated by musicologists with less than charity, but none-the-less is appreciated for his mammoth works for orchestra, the Fountains of Rome and the Pines of Rome. In fact, Respighi’s musical gifts were not endlessly deep. Yet, what have become cherished in his orchestral repertoire are some of the most breathtaking sounds we know.

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Not surprisingly, then, did Respighi compose Trittico Botticelliano in 1927; three pieces on three paintings by the well-known artist Botticelli. Of particular interest is that after the international success of the Fountains of Rome in 1916 and its grandly large orchestra, Respighi shows a unique versatility in the orchestration of Trittico Botticelliano. Here, the normal orchestral string section is accompanied only by four winds, a horn, a trumpet, and a “color” section consisting of bells, triangle, piano, celeste and harp.

Spring (La Primavera) depicts an assortment of figures in revelry in a verdantly luxuriant setting. One can envision oneself in Spring at a briskmountain brook, dancing, splashing, watching the world become alive again. The longest of the three pieces, The Adoration of the Magi (L’Adorazione dei Magi) depicts
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