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The Frosinone Chamber Orchestra (FCO) in its various guises as soloists, quartets, quintets, small orchestra and full orchestra appears in the towns of Ciociaria (the Province of Frosinone) on the sultry evenings throughout summer.

This night, a suitably hot August night, the 10th, the day that we celebrate San Lorenzo (St Lawrence for the real Englishmen), we found ourselves on the Aurunci mountains on the road leading from Cassino to Formia, where those going to enjoy the island of Ventotene embark.

Our medieval village is Castelnuovo Parano, and the village for the concert is Terra, perched around the top of a hill overlooking the valleys leading down to the sea. The town has had its renaissance in medieval style since the destruction of war, and now provides a pleasant stroll through and up and down the alleys and viewpoints.

The bushfires that have brought sadness to many, after a month of heatwave conditions, have created a haze around all the mountain ranges of Lazio, and this haze seems to have captured the heat of the day even after the concert has commenced to a full ‘piazza’ close to 10pm.

Tonight, we are entertained in Piazza Minerva by a nontet of strings directed by the youthful Marco Attura and supported by a lyrical clarinet. As a retired engineer, it is difficult for me to avoid analysing the various groups that the FCO condenses in at each of these concerts.

Tonight, the grandfather of the group standing to the right at the rear is, of course, the double bass, powerfully and, on occasions, delicately plucked and bowed by the cunning hands of Maurizio Turriziani.

The power of the double bass can be recognised by the supporting cast seated and arrayed in front of the standing bass. Its family includes the younger siblings – 2 cellos and two distant cousins – humble violas. The songs and tunes come from what may be its grandchildren, the four violins led by Loreto Gismondi.

And tonight, what is our entertainment?

We are cast into the movie world to live under the influence of the films – music from a wide range of movies over the past 50 years or so, mostly directed by famous Italian directors, and some even better recognised in America (such as Clint Eastwood’s The Good, The Bad and the Ugly – curiously translated as ‘Il Buono, Il Brutto e il Cattivo’).

The images of each of the many films are displayed on the stone wall behind the violinists, helping the audience to combine the images with the audio imagery of their playing.

Among the images I took away from this magical night at the movies, was a section in the ultimate piece where the players led by Loreto Gismondi created a perfect rendition of what I remember as ‘Rawhide’. Maybe my memory fades, but watching Loreto’s bow tickling the strings and adding the audio response was a wonderful experience.

Encore, of course, classical Italian chats, and a glass or two of cool local white brought the night to a fine finish sometime early in the morning.

Gavin Tulloch

Scienziato e poeta. Ama la chimica, il vino, le donne e l’opera, ma non sappiamo in quale ordine