Rossini: Complete Overtures, Vol. 2

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COMPOSERS: Rossini
LABELS: Naxos
ALBUM TITLE: Rossini: Complete Overtures, Vol. 2
WORKS: Complete Overtures, Vol. 2: Guillaume Tell; Eduardo e Cristina; L’inganno felice; La scala di seta; Demetrico e Polibo; Il Signor Bruschino; Sigismondo
PERFORMER: Prague Sinfonia Orchestra/Christian Benda
CATALOGUE NO: 8570934

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This second volume of the Prague Sinfonia’s collected edition of Rossini’s operatic overtures (plus the odd related work) continues the good work of the first, though with the same limitations. The playing is clean and efficient, well balanced and nicely paced, though the performances rarely rise to the truly inspired. The collection begins with the most famous (and arguably the best) of the entire series, William Tell, and while skilfully delivered from the opening quintet of solo cellos to the thrilling martial finale, the piece does not quite amaze as it should.

Rossini was not a lazy composer, but he was an inveterate recycler. Here the rarely performed Sigismondo will be familiar to those who know the equivalent piece in Il turco in Italia. Among other unfamiliar items, Eduardo e Cristina proves surprisingly substantial, with a searching, slow opening section. Rossini’s first operatic overture, Demetrio e Polibio, sets out what would become his standard ground plan, though its material is not particularly distinguished; much the same could be said of the (non-operatic) Sinfonia di Bologna, the most memorable part of which reappears in L’inganno felice.

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George Hall