Rossini: Le sylvain

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Rossini
LABELS: Opera Rara
WORKS: Le sylvain; Les amants de Séville; Le dodo des enfants; Soupirs et sourire; Le chant des Titans; Au chevet d’un mourant; L’esule; À Grenade; Addio ai viennesi; La notte del Santo Natale, etc
PERFORMER: Mireille Delunsch (soprano), Jennifer Larmore, Catherine Wyn-Rogers (mezzo-soprano), Lawrence Brownlee, Mark Wilde (tenor), Brindley Sherratt (bass), Nicholas Bosworth (harmonium), Malcolm Martineau (piano); Geoffrey Mitchell Choir/Renato Balsadonna
CATALOGUE NO: ORR 247

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After a period of prodigious creativity, Rossini wrote no music for 20 years, then when he was in his sixties, he produced a large number of ‘Sins of Old Age,’ mainly for piano solo or for singers with piano accompaniment.

This CD presents a fair selection of them, with extremely helpful notes by Richard Osborne and full texts. Excellently performed by a team of first-rate soloists, with Malcolm Martineau, for me the best accompanist in the world, offering his usual expert support, and  leading off with a solo.

The songs cover a wide range of topics, some of them, as one expects, witty parodies, but others deadly serious, such as a prayer to God by a mother to spare her dying son and take her instead. There’s a strange ‘Song of the Titans’ for chorus, harmonium and piano, a ferocious piece.

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Yet despite the variety of texts and subjects, many of these pieces sound oddly similar, and all told it is the idea that lies behind them, rather than the pieces themselves, that excites the interest. They are neglected pieces, but one only has to listen through to this disc to see why, and to suspect that the performers were enjoying themselves more making the disc than one does listening to it. Michael Tanner