Rossini Complete Overtures
Rossini’s overtures, still often borrowed from their original contexts and encountered as concert openers, deserve a collection, of which this set of seven examples forms the first volume. But Rossini was a great recycler in a period when an opera that flopped on its first appearance, or was simply unknown in another city, must have seemed a temptingly handy source for a new overture if (as theatrical conditions almost always dictated) you were in a hurry. Don’t be surprised, then, to see the overtures to Elisabetta, regina d’Inghilterra (1815) and Il barbiere di Siviglia (1816) given an identical track number on this disc: they’re the same piece. Much of the instrumental Sinfonia in D for strings (1806), written for one of the composer’s early patrons and named after his estate ‘al Conventello’, may, for similar reasons, remind you of the better known overture to the comedy Il signor Bruschino (1813), which will presumably feature in a later volume.
The performances here, however, while clean and efficient, are hardly striking; there’s not quite enough spirit to make them special. But many of the pieces themselves are memorable, especially the spacious, grandly structured Semiramide (1823) and the epic, exciting Le siège de Corinthe (1826).