LABELS: RCA Red Seal
WORKS: Buffo arias & duets
PERFORMER: Eva Mei (soprano), Bruno Praticò (baritone); Munich Radio Orchestra/Marcello Viotti
CATALOGUE NO: 74321 74562 2
A solidly Italian line-up on RCA, demonstrating an idiomatic command of Rossini’s comic writing, with strong teamwork involving plenty of give-and-take in such crucial matters as balance and rhythm. Soprano Eva Mei and baritone Bruno Praticò exchange vocal lines nimbly, while conductor Marcello Viotti selects tempi with care and makes sure they are maintained without rigidity. The selection balances the well known with the obscure — Adina, written in 1818, was almost certainly never performed in the composer’s presence, while extracts from L’occasione fa il ladro and La cambiale di matrimonio also light up lesser-known corners in the composer’s sizeable treasury.
In the Astrée collection of arias and overtures from scores from the first portion of Rossini’s career (1812-17), Spanish soprano Maria Bayo is the vivacious soloist, her brightly coloured instrument proving a good match for the colourfulness of Rossini’s writing. There’s a suggestion here and there, however, of conductor Rinaldo Alessandrini being so keen to stamp his identity on this music that he overemphasises its character and rhythmic accents. Some of the orchestral balance is distinctly odd, while the sound quality has some surprisingly rough moments. George Hall