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Arts Desk

Rediscovering Alfredo Casella's Second Symphony After More Than A Century

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Italian composer Alfredo Casella (1883 - 1947)

Italian composer Alfredo Casella’s Symphony No 2 is a major work composed in 1910 that is little known today. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, a contemporary conductor is working to change that, leading it in cities around the world, including Philadelphia, in its U.S. premiere.  

On Sunday, February 14, 2016 at 1 pm on WRTI, Gianandrea Noseda leads the The Philadelphia Orchestra in a performance of Casella's Symphony No 2. 

Radio Script:

MUSIC: Casella's Symphony No. 2

Susan Lewis:  Gianandea Noseda is passionate about the music of 20th-century composer, pianist and conductor Alfredo Casella, including his second symphony.

Gianandrea Noseda:  It’s a fantastic symphony. There are elements of Mahler, of Strauss, there are elements of French music, also many elements especially in the trio of the second movement...which is a crazy tarantella. The trio reminds me of the crowd at Piazza Novona during the Christmas holiday.

SL: The musical form tarantella takes its name from the poisonous spider...

GA:  If a tarantula eats you, you have a bit of poison, you loose control of your body. That’s why tarantella - this way of uncontrolled dancing...[sings] is a very aggressive tarantella. Tarantellas is usually lighter -  joyful. This one is quite cruel. Also Casella was quite afraid in those years – there were a lot of tensions between countries.

SL:  World War I broke out in 1914, and the symphony itself became a casualty of national hostilities.   Despite its successful premiere in 1910, it was  afterwards seldom performed. In recent years, Noseda has championed the work with performances in Italy, Japan, Germany, and the United States.

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Listen to conductor Gianandrea Noseda talk with WRTI's Susan Lewis about his enthusiasm for Casella's Second Symphony, which is part of his Musica Italiano Project.