La Boutique Fantasque, PP120
The Birds (Gli Uccelli)
Palermo Orchestra Sinfonica del Teatro Massimo
For Ottorino Respighi occupation with music history and the old masters was not only a noble pastime but also a source of inspiration for his own composition. In 1927 he formed what might be called an ornithological suite for small orchestra by the name of Gli Uccelli (The Birds) from various harpsichord and lute miniatures. With these picturesque snapshots he is shown to us from his remarkable side as a sensitive observer who saw the pictorial in everything. All the pieces contributing to the filigree birdcage of Gli Uccelli have a characteristic coloration and very simply serve the purpose of enhancing the hidden moods – as Respighi perceived them – with a certain instrumental cosmetics. In 1919 Respighi had turned to some Rossini gems, and the Ballets Russes had ordered a doll ballet from him. He made selections from the Swan of Pesaro’s late piano compositions but did not limit himself to orchestrating them. He grouped, modulated, organized, abbreviated, and instrumented until the result was not a mere suite but a series of pictures with a compelling logic all of its own.