The Italian Intermezzo

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Catalani,Cilea,Giordano,Leoncavallo,Mascagni,Ponchielli,Puccini,Wolf-Ferrari & Verd
LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: Orchestral music by Catalani, Cilea, Giordano, Leoncavallo, Mascagni, Ponchielli, Puccini, Wolf-Ferrari & Verdi
PERFORMER: BBC Philharmonic/Gianandrea Noseda


This collection celebrates the orchestral items Italian composers included in their operas in the Romantic and late Romantic periods – mainly intermezzos, coming in between the acts as a point of dramatic reflection carried out purely in orchestral terms – but also taking in some preludes as well as ballet music.

The period covered starts with the sickbed frailty of the Prelude to Act III of Verdi’s La traviata (1853) down to the potent melancholy of the Intermezzo from Wolf-Ferrari’s The Jewels of the Madonna (1911), with many little known minor gems of Italian orchestral writing to be encountered on the way.

Especially as delivered here with sensitivity and freshness by the BBC Phil under Gianandrea Noseda, who approaches each item with a relish and stylistic certainty that makes you sit up and listen. The playing, also, is the equivalent of what one might hear in a major opera house, and on a good night, too.


Highlights include the subtle Dance of the Water Nymphs from Catalani’s Loreley, the wintry despair of the Prelude to Act II of Giordano’s Siberia, and the nobly elegiac Prelude to Act III of Puccini’s early, largely forgotten Edgar. But the whole adds up to a highly enjoyable disc. George Hall