Franco Alfano (1875-1954) may be known as the man who completed Puccini’s Turandot, although we rarely hear his full text (recently recorded by Pappano, however), but his output as an original composer is probably shrouded in unawareness. That said, Naxos has been doing him proud and continues with this collection of orchestral music that is a revelation, and all is recorded for the first time, astonishing given it’s first-rate.

The Romantic Suite is atmospheric, picturesque, colourful, exuberant, and often quite lovely: half-an-hour of scenic painting (and some operatic drama) shared over four (attacca) movements, each with attractive ideas, scored imaginatively (plenty of incident as well as filigree touches from harp and piano) that Respighi would have put his name to, and I was reminded at times of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Christmas Eve music. Una danza is more substantial and diverse than its singular title might suggest with enough twists and turns to sustain fourteen capricious minutes. Several listens later I am still finding new things within it

The bittersweet Nenia is for accordion alone, wholly beguiling and exuding a curious fascination, played with sensitivity by Davide Vendramin, and pianist Vittorio Rabagliati features in Divertimento per orchestra ridotta e pianoforte obbligato (ridotta: “a public entertainment consisting of music and dancing often in masquerade popular in 18th century England”), a charming, witty, lyrical and scintillating score.

Finally, Amour… Amour… – courtly yet melancholy, which might have come from Eric Coates’s pen or be considered a cousin of Glazunov’s Concert Waltzes.

Giuseppe Grazioli’s conducting is a labour of love, reciprocated by likewise playing. Excellent recorded sound completes a very recommendable and rewarding release. Naxos 8.574533.

https://www.naxos.com/Bio/Person/Franco_Alfano/26105

https://www.naxos.com/CatalogueDetail/?id=8.574533