Tippett light fantastic

Soprano Elizabeth Watts
Soprano Elizabeth Watts

SUCH was the success of the Tippett Quartet’s concert at Firth Hall featuring music by Bernard Herrmann 14 months ago, a return was mooted there and then with a concert hinged on music by Nino Rota and it happens next Tuesday.

Both composers are best known for their film music, as are the likes of Erich Korngold and Miklós Rózsa, which obscures a considerable corpus of concert music by all four that is unjustly neglected.

Rota, especially, was hugely prolific. A total of operas (10) and large amounts of orchestral, choral (in particular) and chamber music he wrote at least equals the 150 or so film scores he has to his name.

He also wrote a considerable amount of music for theatre productions by Luchino Visconti, Franco Zeffirelli and Eduardo de Filippo all of whom he wrote many film scores for, the most famous of these being for Federico Fellini.

Rota (1911-79) was a noted child prodigy. His first oratorio, written when he was 11, was performed in Milan (where he was born) and Paris and, two years later, he penned his first opera, which was published in 1926. His first film score dates from 1933, his second from 1942 after which the celluloid floodgates opened, his first collaboration with Fellini being in 1952 about the time he began writing the majority of his non-film music.

A few years back, describing Rota’s concert music, distinguished Russian-born conductor, composer and lexicographer Nicolas Slonimsky wrote that it “demonstrates a great facility and even felicity, with occasional daring excursions into dodecaphony (broadly, atonality).”

Tuesday’s concert from the outstanding Tippett Quartet takes in four of his chamber music works, Inventions for String Quartet (from 1932), Il Richiamo, a quintet for string and voice (1923), Quartet for strings (1948-54) and Il Presepio, another quintet for strings and voice (1929).

There is also a Fellini Suite drawing on music Rota penned for such Fellini films as 8½, Amarcord and La Dolce Vita cobbled by in-demand composer, arranger and sometime Divine Comedy member Andrew Skeet.

Further evidence of the Tippett Quartet not doing things in half measures is the voice heard in the two quintets, that of the increasingly acclaimed young Yorkshire-born mezzo-soprano Claire Bradshaw.

Having started last year’s concert with Rózsa’s Second String Quartet, the foursome end their survey of Rota’s string quartet music with the Hungarian-born, American-nationalised composer’s First String Quartet – they are due to record both along with his String Trio about now.

Rózsa’s concert music, which has had influential champions, is better known and has been more frequently recorded than Rota’s, although his output was two-thirds less if concert re-workings of many his famous film scores are left aside.

The Nino Rota and Federico Fellini: Masters of Cinema concert is on Tuesday in conjunction with the Sensoria Festival of Music and Film. The following evening there will be an open-air screening of one of their most famous collaborations, La Dolce Vita, in the Quad of Firth Court on Western Bank. On Sunday Darius Battiwala will provide accompanment to silent classic The Hunchback of Notre Dame and on Thursday the chamber orchestra of Sheffield University Students will play the original score by Gottfried Muppertz to accompany Metropolis, both in Firth Hall.

Both composers are best known for their film music, as are the likes of Erich Korngold and Miklós Rózsa, which obscures a considerable corpus of concert music by all four that is unjustly neglected.

Rota, especially, was hugely prolific. A total of operas (10) and large amounts of orchestral, choral (in particular) and chamber music he wrote at least equals the 150 or so film scores he has to his name.

He also wrote a considerable amount of music for theatre productions by Luchino Visconti, Franco Zeffirelli and Eduardo de Filippo all of whom he wrote many film scores for, the most famous of these being for Federico Fellini.

Rota (1911-79) was a noted child prodigy. His first oratorio, written when he was 11, was performed in Milan (where he was born) and Paris and, two years later, he penned his first opera, which was published in 1926. His first film score dates from 1933, his second from 1942 after which the celluloid floodgates opened, his first collaboration with Fellini being in 1952 about the time he began writing the majority of his non-film music.

A few years back, describing Rota’s concert music, distinguished Russian-born conductor, composer and lexicographer Nicolas Slonimsky wrote that it “demonstrates a great facility and even felicity, with occasional daring excursions into dodecaphony (broadly, atonality).”

Tuesday’s concert from the outstanding Tippett Quartet takes in four of his chamber music works, Inventions for String Quartet (from 1932), Il Richiamo, a quintet for string and voice (1923), Quartet for strings (1948-54) and Il Presepio, another quintet for strings and voice (1929).

There is also a Fellini Suite drawing on music Rota penned for such Fellini films as 8½, Amarcord and La Dolce Vita cobbled by in-demand composer, arranger and sometime Divine Comedy member Andrew Skeet.

Further evidence of the Tippett Quartet not doing things in half measures is the voice heard in the two quintets, that of the increasingly acclaimed young Yorkshire-born mezzo-soprano Claire Bradshaw.

Having started last year’s concert with Rózsa’s Second String Quartet, the foursome end their survey of Rota’s string quartet music with the Hungarian-born, American-nationalised composer’s First String Quartet – they are due to record both along with his String Trio about now.

Rózsa’s concert music, which has had influential champions, is better known and has been more frequently recorded than Rota’s, although his output was two-thirds less if concert re-workings of many his famous film scores are left aside.

The Nino Rota and Federico Fellini: Masters of Cinema concert is on Tuesday in conjunction with the Sensoria Festival of Music and Film. The following evening there will be an open-air screening of one of their most famous collaborations, La Dolce Vita, in the Quad of Firth Court on Western Bank. On Sunday Darius Battiwala will provide accompanment to silent classic The Hunchback of Notre Dame and on Thursday the chamber orchestra of Sheffield University Students will play the original score by Gottfried Muppertz to accompany Metropolis, both in Firth Hall.