WORKS: Robert Bruce Overture; Le chant des Titans; Grande fanfare; Moïse et Pharaon Overture & Introduction,
PERFORMER: Laura Giordano (soprano), Ildar Abdrazakov, Michele Pertusi (baritone), Nelson Calzi (fortepiano); Milan Giuseppe Verdi Chorus & SO/Riccardo Chailly
CATALOGUE NO: 470 298-2
Seven world premieres are claimed on the front of the booklet, and while this surely means first recordings, the odd piece – such as the finale to the ballet divertissement in William Tell – was cut in rehearsals and never heard in the 19th century at all. With the exceptions of the extraordinarily dark overture (with chorus) to Ermione (1819) and the longer two-part structure that begins Moïse et Pharaon (1827), I think it’s fair to say that this is all minor Rossini. But there are some gems – the pleasingly bouncy Hymn to Peace (1850), for instance, which is entirely characteristic of his melodic style at its most rich. The ultra-grandiose Hymn to Napoleon III (1867) has to be at least partially tongue-in-cheek, with its text’s virtual deification of the Emperor and a musical setting that adds soloist, choruses, bells and cannons to a military band and orchestra. It may not be a deathless masterpiece, but it’s huge fun.
In any case, Rossini enthusiasts are going to enjoy themselves. Riccardo Chailly conducts with an impeccable sense of style, and though the choir lets the side down occasionally and the soloists are a mixed bunch, the orchestral playing is always spot-on. George Hall