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10 March 2023
When in 1913 Respighi settled in Rome where he would reside for the rest of his life, he would produce a large amount of highly varied music-some of it now well-known, much of it less so. Geoffrey Simon’s championship of the little-known works of celebrated composers has proved highly successful on both record and in the concert hall, and his exploration of Respighi’s catalogue has yielded a number of colourful compositions whose neglect hitherto remains something of a mystery. The works recorded on this Cala Signum reissue cover a wide range of moods, from the opulence and excitement for which Respighi was noted in his famous Roman Trilogy, to more reflective pieces inspired by nostalgia for the music of the past.
Australian conductor Geoffrey Simon is resident in London and has appeared there with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, London Chamber Orchestra, London Mozart Players and English Chamber Orchestra.
Internationally, he has appeared with the Adelaide, Atlanta, Bournemouth, Canberra, City of Birmingham, Fort Worth, Melbourne, Milwaukee, Queensland, Sapporo, Shanghai, St Louis, Sydney, Tasmanian, Vermont and West Australian Symphony Orchestras, the Israel, Moscow, Munich and New Japan Philharmonic Orchestras, the American Symphony, the Residentie Orchestra of The Hague, the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony and the Australian Opera.
His music directorships have included the Albany Symphony Orchestra (New York), the Australian Sinfonia (London), the Bloomington Symphony Orchestra (Indiana), the Orquestra Simfònica de Balears “Ciutat de Palma” (Majorca) and the Sacramento Symphony (California). With the Palma Orchestra he conducted Paul Patterson’s Te Deum for the King and Queen of Spain, and with the Sacramento Symphony he created the World View series of concerts, attracting audiences from twenty non-European cultures.
Geoffrey Simon is Music Director Emeritus of the Northwest Mahler Orchestra in Seattle, with which he has conducted the Mahler symphonic cycle and Messiaen’s Turangalîla Symphony. He has served as a jury member for Young Concert Artists, PianoTexas, Australian Cello Awards and Royal Over-Seas League.
Geoffrey Simon was a student of Herbert von Karajan, Rudolf Kempe, Hans Swarowsky and Igor Markevich, and a major prize-winner at the first John Player International Conductors’ Award. He has made forty six recordings for a number of labels, combining discoveries with familiar works by Tchaikovsky, Respighi, Borodin, Mussorgsky, Smetana, Bloch, Grainger, Debussy, Ravel, Saint-Saëns and Les Six. Amongst the contemporary composers he has recorded are Barry Conyngham, John Downey, Paul Patterson and Zhou Long.
For Cala Signum, Geoffrey Simon has brought together large ensembles of single instruments—violins, violas, cellos, double basses, horns, trumpets, trombones and harps—drawn from London’s leading solo, orchestral and chamber musicians. Known as The London Sound Series, the recordings have attracted interest amongst instrumentalists worldwide. Geoffrey Simon’s virtuoso 20-cello ensemble, The London Cello Orchestra, has performed for H.M. The Queen and H.R.H. The Duke of Edinburgh, and appeared in New York, Switzerland and South Korea.
Ottorino Respighi was an Italian composer from the first half of 20th Century. After his studies in Bologna (violin, viola and composition) he moved to St. Petersburg where played for several years for the Imperial Opera. There he also met Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, who became his mentor in composition and orchestration. From 1903 until 1908 he played viola in the Mugellini quintet in Bologna. In 1908, he stayed in Berlin for a short period to study under Max Bruch. In 1913, he became a teacher himself at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome, of which he became its director in 1924. Two years later, he already left the position to be able to dedicate himself completely to composing. While Respighi did compose nine operas, he is mostly known for his instrumental works. In particular his orchestral triptych of symphonic poems, Fontane di Roma, Pini di Roma and Feste Romane (also known as the Roman Trilogy) became quite famous. His style was a continuation of the French impressionism, and of Rimsky-Korsakov's technique. He also applied early composition techniques by applying melodies from early lute music (Antiche arie e danze per liuto) or harpsichordpieces from the Baroque era (Gli uccelli).