ROTA:  Piano Concerto in C.  Piano Concerto in E "Piccolo mondo antico"
Giorgia Tomassi, pianist/La Scala Philharmonic Orch/Riccardo Muti, cond.

EMI Classics 56869  (F) (DDD) TT:  58:24

Just about every composer of  film music would like to be recognized as a "serious" musician, and Nino Rota is no exception.  Composer of scores for such popular films as La Strada, La Dolce Vita and The Godfather, Rota through the years had written chamber music, concertos for various instruments, solo instrumental music, two symphonies, a full-length opera (The Wonderful Visit), and a radio opera (The Night). 

Rota's cause will be enhanced by this lovely recording of two piano concertos. The earliest, in C Major, dates from 1959/60 and was dedicated to Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli. The second, in E and subtitled "Piccolo mondo antico," dates from 1978 and is Rota's last completed work  The CD notes suggest the style of Liszt and Rachmaninoff is to be heard in both, however  this is stretching a bit. There is a classic beauty  to both concertos, and these performances, recorded last year during the twentieth anniversary of Rota's death, at the Piano Festival of Brescia and Bergamo, are elegant and assured  I cannot imagine that Michelangeli would have played the C Major better than Ms. Tomassi, a gifted young Italian pianist who is given no mention in the notes other than her name.

The recording is natural and well-balanced. The only negative is that  playing time is quite short for a full-priced CD. Surely Ms. Tomassi could have included some of Rota's solo piano music, which  would have been welcome. Recommended.

R.E.B. (Feb. 2000)