Magazine article Gramophone

Session Report: Noseda Records Casella

Magazine article Gramophone

Session Report: Noseda Records Casella

Article excerpt


Work Casella's Third Symphony | Artists BBC Philharmonic

Venue Media City UK, | Conductor Gianandrea Noseda

Producer Mike George Engineer Stephen Rinker

Date of session November 6, 2120 | Words Geoffrey Norris

'The trombones need a bit more brrrrrr,' says Gianandrea Noseda as we listen through the first take of the Scherzo from Alfredo Casella's Third Symphony. Brrrrrr is the word. Noseda means that the trombones need to stress their strident trills, but the control room is so cold that, on this November day in Salford, I have yet to shed my overcoat. Nobody else seems unduly bothered by the hyper-efficiency of the air conditioning--but they do have other things on their minds.

It's two years since the BBC Philharmonic moved to its new home at MediaCityUK. The old Studio 7 in Manchester's Oxford Road has been superseded (despite the fact that all who worked there remember fondly that it had a good supply of chocolate biscuits) by this brand new space, acoustically tailor-made. It is painted a fetching shade of purple, a colour that triggered some alarm in Noseda when he first saw it: Italians regard purple as a symbol of bad luck. But there is an ameliorating magnolia to the scheme as well, and the dark movable acoustical rectangles and squares in the ceiling look as though they have been artistically arranged to resemble a 3D version of a Mondrian painting. It's also a great deal warmer in the studio than in the control room. The orchestra performed the Casella in a concert the previous weekend (it's now Tuesday), so, as Noseda says, 'The players have been gradually feeling themselves into the fabric of the music.' They are now recording it for Chandos.

Casella completed the symphony in 1940. Listening to this first run-through of the Scherzo, it is quite obvious that Casella knew his Mahler: 'Mahler 6, only more sarcastic', says Noseda, and he's right. Those brrrrrrs on the trombones are a case in point. Elsewhere, there's a tricky passage that Noseda, back in front of the orchestra, gets them to play at half-speed to nail the articulation. With take three, a fair portion of the Scherzo (figures 1-8 in the score) is done, and so we move on to the next bit. …

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