Filarmonica della Scala 2

Verdi’s Stabat Mater and Te Deum, followed – in almost complete contrast – by Ottorino Respighi’s Fontane di Roma and his Pini di Roma brought my Edinburgh Festival reviews to a soaring close.

The 13th century text for the Stabat Mater depicts the Virgin Mary’s agony on seeing the crucified Christ. It is believed this became a model for universal and individual understanding of the Atonement which, in turn, was meant to earn believers a place in Paradise!

Sung in Italian, which gave a true sense of Verdi’s inspiration, by the wonderful Edinburgh Festival Chorus under Chorus Master, Christopher Bell, and the splendid orchestra, conducted by Riccardo Chailly, combined with the skill of Accompanist, Stuart Hope, gave the audience an entrancing and vivid musical experience. I may be old-fashioned but I enjoy seeing orchestra and chorus dressed formally in black and white, which for me adds to the visual impact, too.

The Te Deum followed very naturally with the lovely clarity of voice and orchestra holding the audience spell-bound. (Actually, another reviewer did say to me: ‘how can they follow that’?)

The orchestral magic of Respighi’s Fontana di Roma was based on the effect of the fountains of Rome and rounded off with the Pini de Roma, giving a musical picture of the effect of the trees on the city. When the latter work was first produced in December 1924 at the Teatro Augusteo in Rome it was an immediate success and remains Respighi’s most popular work to the present day.

We needed to tap in to our collective imagination to the composer’s vision of children playing in the gardens of the Villa Borghese and the familiar principal theme first heard on the horns is confronted by the sound of ‘tiny trumpets’ and snatches of nursery rhymes. We are told this stems from Respighi’s wife Elsa’s memories of childhood songs which she sang.

Full of musical contrasts, again invoking the atmosphere of ancient Rome and the temple of the double-faced God, Janus, who looked forward and backwards simultaneously which I found also appropriate. Using the full range of instruments, the piece builds to a great climax, mirroring the victorious return of a Republican army marching along the Appian way.

The ending is dramatic and powerful, with what has been described as ‘one of the most thrilling endings in music’ with the army entering Rome and climbing Capitolino Hill at sunrise. Respighi himself called the final movement, ‘a fantastic vision of bygone glories.’



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Christine Richard OBE FRSA Christine has over 25 years' experience in public life in Scotland in the fields of politics, education, public relations and charity work. For 12 years she served on the City of Edinburgh District Council and was her Group's leader for 4 years. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. In 1992 she was made an OBE. Christine is a member of the Board of The Friends of the Royal Scottish Academy. She has just completed six years on the Board of The Edinburgh International Festival. Christine's business experience has covered the fields of theatre, economic development, science, coal mining, education and training. She has held a number of non-executive directorships in these disciplines. She is a trained and experienced personal relationships counsellor and a business and personal mentor. In 2005 Christine established Christine Richard Associates who undertake Event Management and Public Relations as well as company and individual profiling. She coordinated the 'Yes to Edinburgh' campaign on congestion charging in Edinburgh. ten years ago Christine co-founded West Lothian Women in Business, which is a network for women who are self-employed and also for women managers. Christine has now stepped down from the Chair of this thriving organisation. For 5 years Christine was a magistrate in the District Court. She was also a member of the Secretary of State's Advisory Committee on the appointment of Justices of the Peace. She has been an adviser to Government in various areas of policy, including health, local government and education. Christine is a trained and experienced radio and television broadcaster and writer as well as an entertaining and accomplished speaker. She has a wealth of topics on which she is invited to speak. These range from witty after lunch and after dinner speaking to the more serious topics of the economy, health, education, enterprise, the Powers of the Mind and Life/work balance. She writes reviews and articles for lifestyle magazine, Lothian Life. She took part as a contestant in an ITV gourmet TV show, Chef V Britain, challenging TV chef Gino D'Acampo to cook her signature dish, Posh Cottage Pie. Currently Christine is a member of the Goodison Group in Scotland and Scotland's Futures. Also she is involved in the group Changing the Chemistry of Scottish Boards. Her first novel, Whitewalls, a modern Scottish family saga has been published by New Generation Publishing and is available on all internet books siets and from libraries. She is writing a sequel Autumn at Whitewalls. Her leisure interests include her family, literature, music, theatre, food, wine and horse racing. She is a member of a racing syndicate, which has two horses in training.

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