Compact Discoveries®
a series of one-hour radio programs produced, written, hosted, and edited
by Fred Flaxman

©2014 by Fred Flaxman

Program 225
"Nino Rota's Piano Concertos"


MUSIC: beginning of Nino Rota: The Godfather: Love Theme, performed by Massimo Palumbo, piano [Chandos CHAN 9771, Track 1] [under the following]

Hello and welcome to Compact Discoveries. I’m Fred Flaxman, and I’ve been discovering a treasure trove of absolutely gorgeous music by the Italian composer Nino Rota. Stay with me for the next hour and we’ll listen to some of the most beautiful melodies from his filmscores for Amarcord, The Leopard, La Strada, Romeo and Juliette, The Godfather, Rocco and His Brothers, and .

MUSIC: Fades out.

Nino Rota, who lived from 1911 until 1979, was best known for his film scores. He wrote about 150 of them. But he also wrote about the same number of concert works, and I’ve presented several of them in other hours of Compact Discoveries.

Let’s start this hour with Nino Rota himself playing music he wrote for the 1973 Fellini film, Amarcord. Amarcord won both a Golden Globe award and an Oscar for Best Foreign Film. It’s a richly visual film about Rimini, a traditional seaside village during the uncertainty of Mussolini’s fascist rule. Fellini drew from personal experience to bring the small town and all its colorful characters to life in this story about the escapades of a boy on the cusp of becoming a man.

MUSIC: Nino Rota: Amarcord, performed by Nino Rota on the piano [Istituto Discografico Italiano IDIS 335, Track 14]  [2:11]

Nino Rota played music from his filmscore for the 1973 Fellini movie Amarcord.
 
The Lucino Visconti film, Il Gattopardo, known in English as The Leopard, is filled with beautiful music by Nino Rota. Perhaps someday I’ll devote an entire hour to this great filmscore alone. But in this program it will be represented by a waltz. The performers in this recording are Orio Odori, clarinet, Damiano Puliti, cello, and Alessandra Garosi, piano. They are known as the Harmonia Ensemble.

Set in 1860s Sicily, The Leopard stars Burt Lancaster as a prince who attempts to hold onto the glory he once knew, while his nephew has joined opposition forces and is being heralded as a war hero. Towards the end of this almost three-hour movie, there are ball scenes with lots of dance music.

MUSIC: Nino Rota: Il Valzer del Gattopardo, performed by Harmonia Ensemble: Orio Odori, clarinet, Damiano Puliti, cello, and Alessandra Garosi, piano. [JSL Iris Musique Production 015 851, Track 6]  [3:50]

The waltz from Nino Rota’s score for Lucino Visconti’s 1963 film, The Leopard. This version was by the Harmonia Ensemble.

Next we hear the Harmonia Ensemble again, this time with their interpretation of music by Nino Rota for Federico Fellini’s 1954 film, La Strada / The Street. In the film a care-free girl is sold by her mother to a bullying circus performer, where a clown wins her heart and ignites a doomed love triangle. The movie won the 1957 Academy Award Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.

MUSIC: Nino Rota: La Strada performed by Harmonia Ensemble [JSL Iris Musique Production 015 851, Track 12]  [5:53]

The Harmonia Ensemble performing music by Nino Rota for Federico Fellini’s 1954 film, La Strada / The Street.

The 1968 Franco Zeffirelli movie version of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet also had a score by Nino Rota, featuring one of his most beautiful, romantic tunes. Some of Rota’s film music doesn’t work too well for solo piano, and some make beautiful piano pieces. That is the case with this gorgeous melody from Romeo and Juliet.

MUSIC: Nino Rota: Romeo and Juliet performed by Massimo Palumbo [Chandos CHAN 9771, Track 12]  [3:33]

Music from Nino Rota’s score for Franco Zeffirelli’s movie version of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The performer was the Italian pianist Massimo Palumbo on a Chandos Movies digital recording.

You are listening to “Nino Rota’s Movie Music” on this hour of Compact Discoveries. I’m your guide, Fred Flaxman.

[optional one-minute break not included in the total timing]

Next our major work for this hour, six excerpts from Nino Rota’s film scores for the Francis Ford Coppola 1972 and 1974 films, The Godfather, and The Godfather, Part 2.  The themes are mixed in this orchestral suite performed by the Filarmonica della Scala conducted by Riccardo Muti on this Sony Classical compact disc.

The Godfather stars Marlon Brando and Al Pacino as the leaders of a fictional New York crime family. The story spans the decade from 1945 to 1955 and centers on the transformation of a character from reluctant family outsider to ruthless Mafia boss, while also chronicling the family under its patriarch. The film won three Oscars in 1972 and spawned two sequels.

MUSIC: Nino Rota: The Godfather performed by Filarmonica della Scala conducted by Riccardo Muti [Sony Classical SK 63359, Tracks 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8]

Riccardo Muti conducted the Filarmonica della Scala on this 1997 Sony compact disc recording of music from Nino Rota’s score for Francis Ford Coppola’s 1972 and 1974 films, The Godfather and The Godfather, Part 2. I selected six of the eight movements you’ll find on the CD, so I could get in three lovely piano pieces based on the same melodies, all performed by the Italian pianist we heard earlier in this hour, Massimo Palumbo. I enjoy these pieces so much, they make me feel like taking up piano playing again after all these years. But then again, I’d rather hear Massimo Palumbo playing them than Fred Flaxman! And I’ll bet you would too!

MUSIC: Nino Rota: The Godfather: Love Theme performed by Massimo Palumbo [Chandos CHAN 9771, Track 1]  [2:54]

MUSIC: Nino Rota: The Godfather: Waltz performed by Massimo Palumbo [Chandos CHAN 9771, Track 2]  [1:41]

MUSIC: Nino Rota: The Godfather: Michael’s Theme performed by Massimo Palumbo [Chandos CHAN 9771, Track 3]  [1:54]

Three piano pieces taken from Nino Rota’s score for the film The Godfather performed by Massimo Palumbo on a Chandos compact disc.

The 1960 Luchino Visconti movie, Rocco and His Brothers, also featured a score by Nino Rota. The film, set in Milan, tells the story of an immigrant family from the South and its disintegration in the society of the industrial North. Here the theme is performed by the Harmonia Ensemble from the same JSL Iris Musique Production we sampled earlier.

MUSIC: Nino Rota: Rocco e i Suoi Fratelli performed by Harmonia Ensemble [JSL Iris Musique Production 015 851, Track 9]  [4:57]

Music from Nino Rota’s score for the 1960 Visconti film, Rocco and His Brothers. That was from the Harmonia Ensemble’s 1993 Nino Rota CD.

We’ll continue with Rocco and His Brothers, but this time bring back Riccardo Muti and the Filarmonica della Scala with the film’s finale from the same Sony CD we sampled earlier.

MUSIC: Nino Rota: Rocco and His Brothers: Finale - Nadia performed by Filarmonica della Scala conducted by Riccardo Muti [Sony Classical SK 63359, Track 21]  [2:25]

Music by Nino Rota from his score for Rocco and His Brothers performed by the Filarmonica della Scala conducted by Ricardo Muti. And those musicians will bring this hour of Compact Discoveries to a close with “La Passerella di addio” from Fellini’s film, 8-½. Music, as well, by Nino Rota.

Fellini’s was made in 1963. Its title refers to Fellini's eight and a half films as a director. His previous directorial work consisted of six features, two short segments, and a collaboration with another director, those three productions accounting for a "half" film each. won two Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film and Best Costume Design (black-and-white).

MUSIC: Nino Rota: music from performed by Filarmonica della Scala conducted by Riccardo Muti [Sony Classical SK 63359, Track 9]  [5:32]

“La Passerella di addio” from Fellini’s film, . Music by Nino Rota. I chose “La Passerella di addio” to end this hour devoted to “Nino Rota’s Movie Music” because the Italian title means something like “the passage for good-byes.”

But before I say “addio” for this hour of Compact Discoveries, I’d like to tell you that, if you missed any of this program or would like to hear it again, go to compactdiscoveries.com on the internet, where you’ll find links to stream Compact Discoveries programs on demand without charge. I’m Fred Flaxman. Thanks for listening!

ANNOUNCER (Tana Flaxman): Compact Discoveries is made possible in part by an anonymous donor from Palm Beach, Florida. And by the financial support of Isabel and Marvin Leibowitz. And by ArkivMusic dot com, the online store for classical music CDs, DVDs, downloads, and over 10,000 on-demand reissued titles. That’s A-r-k-i-v Music dot com.

Program Ends at 59:00