ALBUM TITLE: Rossini
WORKS: Guillaume Tell
PERFORMER: Andrew Foster-Williams, Alessandra Volpe, Tara Stafford, Judith Howarth, Michael Spyres, Giulio Pelligra; Camerata Bach Choir, Poznán; Virtuosi Brunensis/Antonino Fogliani
CATALOGUE NO: 8.660363-66
Guillaume Tell is not a short piece, however you play it. This new recording, based on performances given at the Rossini in Wildbad Festival in July 2013, claims to be the opera’s first complete recording; coming in at four hours and 12 minutes it is surely the longest. Numbers written by Rossini for the first production in Paris in 1829, but dropped before the first night, are heard here, as well as the original version of the Pas de trois et Choeur tyrolien in Act III, which was replaced during rehearsals, and an alternative version of the opera’s finale, which drops the grandiose apotheosis usually performed with a sing-along version of the final galop from the overture. Some of these extras are heard in an appendix at the end of the last disc (the chorus has an embarrassing moment when they lose pitch in an unaccompanied section of ballet music).
While this new music is worth hearing, the performance as a whole, though more than decent, is not up to the standard of the best available. Andrew Foster-Williams’s Tell is solemn and determined, if a little rough around the edges, Michael Spyres’s Arnold generally fluent and lyrical, Judith Howarth’s Mathilde passionate and engaged, Tara Stafford’s Jemmy punchy and nicely scaled, Nahuel Di Pierro’s Melcthal noble, and Raffaele Facciolà’s Gesler suitably dark and villainous. There’s sterling work from the orchestra under the skilful baton of Antonino Fogliani, and a French only libretto is available on the Naxos website. George Hall