cond; NSO of Ukraine • NAXOS 8.555266 (75:37)
The Nittemero Symphony (the name from a Greek expression, meaning “night and day”) of 1985–88 is in three movements; it’s a couple of minutes short of half-an-hour in length. Brusa’s notes say that the piece reflects “the course and variations of feelings and moods during the entire 24-hour cycle of a day according to the astronomical definition of ancient Greek times”–but by now the general insistence of her manner, her cloggy scoring, the lack of distinction of her melodic material are beginning to pall. One can see some of the music doing service in the background of a spaghetti western or B-feature sci-fi movie, but there’s not enough musical meat here to justify the title “symphony” – nor, indeed, the listener’s close attention. The brief Fanfare (1996) which closes the CD (why is it not at the beginning, one wonders) offers a last slab of exaggerated, heroic gestures.
The National Symphony Orchestra of the Ukraine, under Fabio Mastrangelo, plays gamely enough (and it’s in good sound), but the players can’t rescue the music. One of the principal attractions of Naxos’ budget price is that you can take a risk with music you don’t know and at worst you’ve lost only $5. In this instance, you are better advised spending them on something else.