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Casta Diva (Vanessa Benelli Mosell)

Vanessa Benelli Mossell (piano) (Decca)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Casta Diva
Piano transcriptions by Chopin, Ginzburg, Liszt, Thalberg, P Wittgenstein, et al
Vanessa Benelli Mossell (piano)
Decca 485 5291   67:49 mins

The young Liszt’s arrangement of Bellini’s Réminiscences de Norma,  an opera transcription intended to showcase the capabilities of the newly created piano, forms the centrepiece of Vanessa Benelli Mosell’s new album. The Italian pianist harnesses the greater technical abilities of today’s Steinway Model D to bring a spiky, slightly acidic reading of the melodic highlights from Bellini’s tragic opera.

With Liszt’s reflections from Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, Verdi’s Rigoletto and Rossini’s William Tell Overture, Mosell faces stiff competition, primarily Louis Lortie’s Liszt at the Opera (Chandos) and Leslie Howard’s collection of the same name for Hyperion, but she stands up to the challenge. Her varied programme also includes Chopin’s take on the march from Bellini’s I puritani, a piece written for Hexaméron, a volume of Bellini transcriptions from six of the greatest keyboardists of the day. This compact – often overlooked – variation shimmers and sparkles, while Ginzburg’s version of Rossini’s Barber of Seville has the required pizzazz. Wittgenstein’s left-hand transcription of the sailor’s chorus from Madam Butterfly provides a thoughtful pause before the closing William Tell canter.

Claire Jackson