Rota: The Fellini Album

Reviewed on Mon 29 Jul, 2019

The nine-movement La dolce vita Suite (nimbly arranged by William Ross) is an evocative kaleidoscope of stolen glances, scents caught on the air, aching innocence and hedonistic temptations.

Deliciously heady and intoxicating, this delectably played compendium of Nino Rota’s scores for Federico Fellini’s era-defining films should attract cinephiles and music lovers alike. Absent is the lush romance and dark, melancholic grandeur of Rota’s signature music for Romeo and Juliet and The Godfather. Instead, there’s a knowing, dexterously articulated lightness of touch and a gleeful pillaging of popular melodies, unabashedly so in the suites drawn from Amarcord and 8½. The nine-movement La dolce vita Suite (nimbly arranged by William Ross) is an evocative kaleidoscope of stolen glances, scents caught on the air, aching innocence and hedonistic temptations. So, too, the incense-inebriated, dangerously hallucinogenic abandonment of Casanova, the I Clowns Suite animated by altogether more innocent and sweetly, playfully, joyful impulses. The La Scala orchestra play to the manner born, alert and alive to Rota’s plentiful references and simple but often startling originality. As the engaging ringmaster, Riccardo Chailly conducts with a lightness of touch that belies an obviously deep affection for the material.
–Michael Quinn