Tag Archives: Impressions

Respighi – St Michael the Archangel – Church Windows (2/4) Four Symphonic Impressions

Respighi, who proved with his Roman triad that he was a man who composed well in the form of tone or symphonic poem, was out of character in writing his “Vetrate di chiesa” (“Church Windows”); the subtitle, “Four Symphonic Impressions”, was odd as these were not “impressions” at all. Respighi composed three pieces for piano while vacationing with his wife in Capri in 1919. The three piano pieces were titled “Tre preludi sopra melodie gregoriane (Three Preludes on Gregorian Melodies)”. Respighi revisited the pieces and transcribed them for large orchestra, adding a fourth piece in order to make the symphonic suite complete. The names of the pieces came long after, based upon the feel of the pieces. Respighi and his close friend, librettist and literature professor, Claudio Guastalla, worked together to provide titles that would tie each of the pieces to stained glass windows of churches in Italy; they went so far as to provide scriptural references or libretto-like religious texts to accompany the pieces. But this was all done after the pieces were written… Presented here is “San Michele Arcangelo” (“Saint Michael the Archangel”), the title inspired by the war-like sounds of the piece which Claudio Guastalla imagined as, “a clash of weapons – a battle in the skies”, as described in Revelation; the battle between Saint Michael and his Angels and the dragon, at the end of time. The piece is performed here by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, led by Jesus Lopez-Cobos, a
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