The Flagello brothers combined their remarkable musical talents to create the unique artistic synergy of these recordings. Ezio’s career flourished at the Metropolitan Opera and abroad, and composer Nicolas made good use of his rich bass-baritone voice in luxuriant settings of Tennyson’s verses in The Land, here partnered with Leopardi’s L’Infinito, a gloomy expression of humility and awe in the face of the Infinite. The texts used in the Passion of Martin Luther King emphasize faith, endurance and brotherly love, and this previously unissued première recording restores the moving original version of the work, with Dr King’s “Dream” re-asserted through Ezio Flagello’s towering performance as soloist.
"The concept behind Nicolas Flagello’s Passion of Martin Luther King is a compelling one ... New York City-born Flagello comes off as a twentieth-century composer who refused to give up Romanticism; on the evidence here, at least, he composed in bold emotional strokes and primary colors. The opening “Hosanna Filio David” contains vivid splashes of Technicolor and reveals the composer’s sure dramatic hand, which proves to be omnipresent. Timpani rolls and ominous, slow-building orchestral crescendos make their intended impact. The text settings are vivid and coloristically shrewd: the martial “In the Struggle for Freedom” is particularly effective, and the choral climax in the fifth movement delivers action-packed glory. The “Jubilate deo” movement is a brilliant choral fugue…an unexpectedly tender setting of the phrase “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord” brings a lump to one’s throat, and the “Stabat Mater” movement is deeply poignant. The vocal writing is unfailingly lyrical ... the piece is a refreshing respite from today’s postmodernism and irony. Giving a magnificent rendition of the solo part is the composer’s younger brother, Ezio Flagell ... Flagello’s forceful interpretation bursts with ruddy coloring and amazingly clear diction; he is ceaselessly formidable. Also included is the masterful L’Infinito…which packs a wallop in its brief three minutes and has some of the intensity of Ernest Bloch. The disc closes with The Land ... These are full of surprises, including attractive echoes of Respighi, Puccini, Richard Strauss and Ennio Morricone, wrapped up in Flagellois own brand of sophisticated expressiveness."
Joshua Rosenblum - Opera News - October 2012
"This is a significant and gorgeous release ... Despite my reservation about the lact of text, my enthusiasm is such that this disc is likely to wind up on my 2012 Want List... Anyone with an interest in exploring unfamiliar repertoire and an interest in tonal vocal musi that stays in the memory long after one hears it should find this an extremely worthwhile purchase." Henry Fogel
"...This is musicto live with and love, in performances of color and commitment." Phillip Scott
Fanfare - September/October 2012