- Symphony No. 1 ("Sinfonia Classica")
- Symphony No. 2
Best known for his operas "Risurrezione," "Sakùntala," and "Cyrano de Bergerac," and for finishing Puccini's "Turandot," Franco Alfano is much less recognized as a symphonist. Yet his two works in this genre deserve some consideration as examples of that rare species in composition, the Italian symphony. Postromantic in expression and extremely vivid in orchestration, Alfano's turbulent "Symphony No. 1 in E major, Classica" (1910, rev. 1953), is about as operatic as a symphony can get without losing its essentially abstract argumentation and form. In the sense that Alfano observes thematic development and lays out his music in a fairly conventional three-movement scheme, he fulfills the barest requirements; but his score is so intensely passionate and feverish, the listener must surrender to the drama as it plays out through strongly contrasted moods and nearly programmatic scene painting. The "Symphony No. 2 in C major" (1931-1932) starts out in a more lyrically pastoral vein, but it quickly assumes the same tension and urgency of the previous work; it similarly compels a suspension of expectations in its theatricality and insistent rhetoric. These pieces are vibrantly performed by Israel Yinon and the Brandenburgisches Saatsorchester Frankfurt, and fans of orchestral opulence will relish the glorious sound in CPO's fine reproduction.