Paisiello: Piano Concerto No. 1 in C; Piano Concerto No. 5 in D; Piano Concerto No. 7 in A; Piano Concerto No. 8 in C

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COMPOSERS: Paisiello
LABELS: ASV
WORKS: Piano Concerto No. 1 in C; Piano Concerto No. 5 in D; Piano Concerto No. 7 in A; Piano Concerto No. 8 in C
PERFORMER: Mariaclara Monetti (piano)ECO/Stephanie Gonley
CATALOGUE NO: CD DCA 873 DDD
When even the writer of the sleeve-notes has misgivings about the quality of the music on a CD, then the reviewer’s heart is liable to sink before even the first notes have sounded. As is well known, Paisiello’s Barbiere di Siviglia was quickly superseded by Rossini’s perennial masterwork and now merits only occasional revival as a historical curiosity. Of his other work little is known. So is Paisiello an unjustly neglected force to be reckoned with or merely another charming Rococo note-spinner?

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His piano concertos (the remaining four are available on ASV CD DCA 872) are typical of their age: fastidious and easygoing, somewhat short on drama and depth of feeling. Occasionally he supplements his craftsmanship with an arresting idea, but rarely is he able to sustain that level of invention beyond a few bars before lapsing into tedious sequences of routine scales and arpeggios. Comparison with Mozart’s piano concertos immediately demonstrates what distinguishes the artist from the artisan.

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Still these are attractive, lightweight pieces provided one doesn’t listen too attentively to them, and much pleasure is to be had from the civilised, polished playing of Mariaclara Monetti and the spirited support of the English Chamber Orchestra. Indeed they almost convince you that Paisiello might have a future yet. Antony Bye