Rossini: Une larme; Serenata in E flat; Sonate a quattro No. 3; Sonate a quattro No. 6; Duet for cello & double bass

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Rossini
LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
WORKS: Une larme; Serenata in E flat; Sonate a quattro No. 3; Sonate a quattro No. 6; Duet for cello & double bass
PERFORMER: Ensemble Explorations/Roel Dieltiens
CATALOGUE NO: HMC 901847
This follow-up to Ensemble Explorations’s first Rossini disc, which I reviewed in December 2002, completes the series of six string sonatas he composed when he was a boy of 12, and throws in a few curiosities besides. The older Rossini dismissed the sonatas as ‘horrendous’, but on the whole they’re a good deal more fun than the cello-and-piano variations called Une larme, which actually belong to his Péchés de vieillesse. The Ensemble’s leading spirit, Roel Dieltiens, plays the variations in appropriately lachrymose style, but it’s possible to feel he’s a touch too demonstratively expressive in the Andante of the Duetto for cello and double bass – a piece that would no doubt have gone down a treat in the London salon of the wealthy amateur cellist for whom it was written, particularly since the bass part was played by the famous Dragonetti. Less subterranean in its scoring than the Duetto is the Serenata of 1823 – actually another set of variations – which throws the spotlight in turn on violin, oboe, flute, cor anglais and cello. Like all the music here, and especially the sonatas, it’s played with a real sense of enjoyment, and the recording is exemplary. Misha Donat

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