This is your second recording of Respighi for Naxos. What attracts you to his music?

As a conductor I love it, because Respighi is one of those very gifted orchestrators, in that he knows how to write for the instruments in a way that makes them shine. That makes the textures really, really glisten. Not every great composer can do that, but Respighi not only has the great musical ideas, but he can portray them in the garb of the orchestra in a way that is truly brilliant.

JoAnn Falletta JoAnn Falletta. Photo © Guillermo Mendo

I find that orchestras love to play him and that musicians love it because he knows how to write for them. And that’s not to say it’s easy, but he knows what the instruments can do and he can create an orchestral landscape that’s really astonishing.

What do you think Respighi was hoping to say through his famous Roman Trilogy?

He loves Rome, his adopted city, and he has several agendas here. He wants to convince the Italian people that Italians can write great orchestral music as they did centuries before – in other words, not opera only. So,...