Rameau, Respighi: Airs Galants, Renaissance & Baroque-inspired music for piano 4-hands


  • Artist(s): Caterina Roberti, Due di Duo, Salvatore Sclafani
  • Composer(s): Jean-Philippe Rameau, Ottorino Respighi
  • EAN Code: 7.46160916132
  • Edition: Da Vinci Classics
  • Format: 1 Cd
  • Genre: Chamber
  • Instrumentation: Piano 4 Hands
  • Period: Baroque, Modern
  • Publication year: 2023
SKU: C00777 Category:

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Airs Galants
Renaissance & Baroque-inspired music for piano 4-hands

This recording invites to the discovery of Renaissance and Baroque works, transcribed for piano four-hands in different historical periods and according to different aesthetics. On the one hand, the transcription by Léon Roques (1839-1923) of Airs de Ballet from Les Indes Galantes, an opéra-ballet by Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683-1764); on the other hand, the Antiche Danze ed Arie per Liuto (first and second suites) by Ottorino Respighi (1879-1936), freely transcribed from 16th- and 17th-century original pieces for lute. According to the catalogue of Respighi’s works, compiled by Potito Pedarra for Ricordi in 1985, only the first two suites out of the three existing ones were arranged for piano four-hands by the composer himself from their orchestral version and published respectively in 1919 and 1923.

Our predilection for the Renaissance and Baroque repertoire, as well as the performance challenges produced by such ‘ancient’ compositions in their ‘modern’ transcriptions, intrigued and prompted us to engage in an in-depth interpretive research, especially with regard to the specificity of musical writing of the past in relation to current instrumental practices.
The transcriptions by Roques and Respighi are inevitably different in style from the original works that inspired them. We have therefore considered worthwhile to start our work from an analysis of the orchestrations by Rameau and Respighi in order to grasp their spirit and peculiarities: the performance practice of early music has represented a fundamental yardstick for our approach to the Airs de Ballet from Les Indes Galantes and the Antiche Danze ed Arie per Liuto, in the context of the interpretation for piano four-hands.

Originally conceived for Baroque orchestra, the Airs de Ballet are transcribed by Roques in a late Romantic style. Through the distinctive timbre of the piano, Roques gives new life and expressiveness to an ancient taste. Moreover, the artistic trajectory of the French organist and composer is linked to numerous transcriptions, in particular those from Claude Debussy (1862-1918), Maurice Ravel (1875-1937), Richard Wagner (1813-1883) and Jacques Offenbach (1819-1880). In the transcription for piano four-hands of Les Indes Galantes, the skillful use of the broad spectrum of keyboard registers proves particularly effective in rendering the complexity of the orchestral fabric.
In our exploration of the intersection between piano writing and Baroque aesthetics, exchanging views with interpreters and specialists of Rameau’s repertoire has significantly helped us to pursue a historically informed interpretation, coherent with the performance practice of the original version for orchestra of Les Indes Galantes: from the orchestration by Rameau himself to the piano dynamics indicated by Roques, from the phraseological analysis to the ornamentation, our interpretative choices have constantly maintained a balance between the specific characteristics of the piano, for which this transcription is intended, and the philological rendering of the work. Among the various study materials, the modern edition of the work had a relevant role. This edition, based on the August 1735 original version and realized in 2014 by Nicolas Sceaux for the concerts of La Simphonie du Marais and its director Hugo Reyne, also constituted the starting point for the recording of the complete Les Indes Galantes, by the Simphonie itself (2014).
The musicological value of the work by Sceaux, Reyne and La Simphonie du Marais prompted us to take it into account for a comparison with Roques’ transcription. The piano writing, as well as the dynamics and articulations of late Romantic sensibility indicated by the latter, do not always succeed in fully rendering the colours, ornamentations and phrasing of the orchestra. For example, in the Coda of the Chaconne that concludes the first suite of the Airs de Ballet, we decided to play the interventions of the trumpets – present in the original version for orchestra – with repeated notes instead of broken octaves as proposed by Roques. The reason for this choice is our desire to better evoke the timbre, colour and playing technique of the trumpets of Rameau’s time, which are not fully represented, in our opinion, by the sound effect obtained by playing broken octaves, certainly more pertinent to piano technique but less effective.
Following the same logic, we retrieved voices from the original score that were not present in the transcription by Roques, when we considered them important within the polyphonic structure. These and similar changes were motivated by our quest for a piano interpretation as consistent as possible with the instrumentation of Rameau’s baroque orchestra.
Due di Duo’s interpretation of Roques’ transcriptions of Les Indes Galantes could resolve the apparent absence, to date, of an available recording. For this reason and for their rare occurrence in concert programmes, we consider Roques’ suites a precious treasure that deserves to be enhanced. Published by Durand in 1906 and 1908 respectively, under the direction of Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921), the suites are part of a monumental work of critical edition of Rameau’s opera omnia, carried out by Saint-Saëns himself from 1894 onwards. Whereas Rameau’s works did not yet feature permanently in early music programmes between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, Saint-Saëns’ contribution was fundamental in ensuring that the art of the great French Baroque composer could be fully recognised in the modern era.

Alongside the transcription for piano four-hands of the Airs de Ballet from Les Indes Galantes, Respighi’s first two suites of the Antiche Danze ed Arie per Liuto reveal the composer’s nostalgic interest for the musical themes of the past and display an intriguing, personal evocation of Renaissance and Baroque sonorities: the original melodies for lute, simple and popular in character, stand out from a background of unexpected harmonisations and refined contrapuntal weaves. Respighi takes lute tablatures from the 16th and 17th centuries up and reworks them, at first for orchestral ensemble, organising them in the form of suites. The focus on an Italian musical tradition, until then neglected, is not to be taken with a philological intent. Highlighting once more his great qualities as an orchestrator, early music becomes, for Respighi, a field of renewed compositional inspiration and exploration on timbre and colour. Compared to Roques’ work, Respighi’s free transcription of pieces of Italian Renaissance and Baroque music and its further reduction for piano four-hands imply a relatively different pianistic approach: in this case, a direct comparison with the original lute versions did not seem so relevant as for the Rameau’s transcription. Nevertheless, listening to and studying these pieces proved invaluable in understanding which practices and styles inspired the Bolognese composer, and in informing our interpretation. Moreover, the comparison with the original version for orchestra generated reflections and led to interpretative choices regarding timbre, sound quality and conducting of the voices.

Both Roques’ transcription and Respighi’s arrangement show a compositional style and pianistic language inevitably ‘other’ then the original pieces of reference. Research and in-depth study of the performance practice of early music have, therefore, led our pianistic gesture and represented, at the same time, a fundamental impulse to enhance the versatility of the instrument in a four-hands duo.
Salvatore Sclafani & Caterina Roberti © 2023


Caterina Roberti is an Italian pianist, very active as chamber musician and accompanist for singers, ballet and instruments.
She currently teaches Piano at the Institut Jaques-Dalcroze de Belgique in Brussels, Piano and Accompaniment at the Conservatoire M.-A. Guénin de Maubeuge (France) and combines her interest in the vocal repertoire with a passion for languages by teaching Italian for singers at the IMEP in Namur (Belgium).
Graduated with the highest honors at the Conservatorio G. B. Pergolesi of Fermo (Italy), she holds a Master in Accompaniment and a Master in Piano from the Conservatoire royal de Bruxelles, a Master in Music Education from the Conservatoire royal de Mons (Belgium) and a Bachelor’s degree in Modern Languages for Interpreters and Translators from the Università di Bologna (Italy).
Her duo with mezzo-soprano Amalia Avilán is awarded the Udo Reinemann International Masterclass Diploma in collaboration with the Théâtre royal de la Monnaie of Brussels.
Inexorably seduced by Argentine tango, Caterina explores and melts into this musical universe as a dancer and musician, taking part in several Tango-Orchestra workshops with the Silencio Tango Orchestra and the pianist and composer Pablo Murgier.
In 2018, she founded the Giacinto's Secret Concert Society, a season of house concerts that has welcomed, in Brussels, performers from all over the world.
“A solid, intelligent, inquisitive, sensible, dynamic pianist: an artist.” – Jay Gottlieb

Due di duo is the fulfilment of an intense musical and personal bond. Graduated in 2019 from the Advanced Chamber Music Program of the Orpheus Instituut in Ghent (Belgium), Caterina Roberti and Salvatore Sclafani first crossed paths in 2013 at the Conservatoire royal de Bruxelles in the class of the Belgian pianist Eliane Reyes. Both captivated by multiple cross-disciplinary interests, the affinity between them is immediate. Their connection led them to an intense collaboration on works for two pianos at first and then for piano four-hands.
In Brussels, they are invited to perform at the Festival Musiq3 (Flagey), the Festival Musicorum (Musées royaux des Beaux-arts) and the Maison des Arts of the Université libre de Bruxelles, among other venues.
Keen on sharing their curiosity with the public, their repertoire mainly focuses on 20th century four-hands piano music and on the rediscovery of rarely performed works, particularly by Italian composers. They firmly believe that the musician's role cannot be separated from a research driven by the desire to give the general public access to precious works, especially when they still constitute a treasure to be discovered. This recording represents the crowning achievement of their project about Renaissance and Baroque-inspired modern and contemporary works and transcriptions.
“Musically spirited and playful pianists. Their crossing-time repertoire stands out, together with a unique Italian glee.” – Eliane Reyes

Born in Palermo (Italy), Salvatore Sclafani begins his musical studies with Antonio Fortunato at the conservatory of his native city, where he obtains a Diploma and a Master in Piano, both cum laude.
He refines his skills in Belgium with Eliane Reyes, at the Conservatoire royal de Bruxelles, achieving with the highest honors a Master in Piano and a Master in Piano Pedagogy. At the same time, he follows pianist Roberto Plano's masterclasses at the Accademia Musicale Varesina. Finally, he pursues a post-graduate Concert Musician course in Piano at the Koninklijk Conservatorium Brussel, under the guidance of Boyan Vodenitcharov.
He currently works as teaching assistant for Piano at the Conservatoire royal de Bruxelles, and as professor of Piano at the Conservatoire M.-A. Guénin de Maubeuge (France).
Doctoral student in Art and Art Sciences at the Université libre de Bruxelles and at the Conservatoire royal de Bruxelles, he takes part in conferences and scientific activities in Belgium, France, Georgia, Serbia, and the UK.
Prize-winner of several national and international competitions, he performs in solo concerts, chamber music ensembles, and conference-concerts in Italy, Belgium, France, Spain, and Sweden.
He holds a Bachelor in Modern Languages and Literatures from the Università di Palermo. Passionate about writing and radio, he collaborates with the Italian magazines TGmusic.it, Suonare News, and Amadeus. He is a reporter and a radio presenter for Cremona Musica Exhibitions and Festival. He has also participated as a guest in the program Table d'écoute, for the Belgian national radio Musiq3.


Jean-Philippe Rameau
(b Dijon, bap. 25 Sept 1683; d Paris, 12 Sept 1764). French composer and theorist. He was one of the greatest figures in French musical history, a theorist of European stature and France's leading 18th-century composer. He made important contributions to the cantata, the motet and, more especially, keyboard music, and many of his dramatic compositions stand alongside those of Lully and Gluck as the pinnacles of pre-Revolutionary French opera.

Ottorino Respighi (b Bologna, 9 July 1879; d Rome, 18 April 1936). Italian composer. Despite the eclecticism and uneven quality of his output as a whole, the colourful inventiveness of his most successful works has won them an international popularity unmatched by any other Italian composer since Puccini.

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