Our midwinter occasions carry light into the most obscure days of the year, each in their own specific manners yet music generally projects the hottest sparkle. Singing together attracts families and neighbors nearer the most brutal season, reinforcing mutual bonds through customs like the hymn. Albeit composed for instrumental voices, Respighi’s and Britten’s works include two of the most established and most popular songs of Christmastide.
Albeit the subject of “The Adoration of the Magi” is unmistakable as the tune “O come, O come, Emmanuel,” Respighi’s brain was not on the Advent season. Rather, the three developments of the Trittico Botticelliano each take their motivation from an alternate work of art by Sandro Botticelli, prestigious craftsman of the Italian Renaissance. The first and third are reasonable natural: La primavera (Spring) and La nascita di Venere (The Birth of Venus). The center piece of the three panel painting, “L’adorazione dei Magi,” is not so much humanistic but rather more conventional, with its subject from the Book of Matthew.
The three “insightful men” who visit the newborn child Jesus in Bethlehem are regularly named as Balthasar, Melchior, and Caspar, however Botticelli put together his figures with respect to the similarities of three significant individuals from the Medici family: Cosimo the Elder and his children, Piero and Giovanni. Different elites of Florence show up in their companies, including the financier who dispatched the composition and the current scion of the Medici, Lorenzo (child of Piero). This appears to have made a difference less to Respighi, in any case, than the normal comprehension of the Magi as lords of Arabia, Persia, and India. To cite one more song than the one Respighi chose: “we three rulers of Orient are with a bounty of presents gifts.”