Rossini: Overtures

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Rossini
LABELS: Warner
ALBUM TITLE: Rossini: Overtures
WORKS: Overtures to La scala di seta, Il signor Bruschino, Il barbiere di Siviglia, La cenerentola, Semiramide, La siège de Corinthe and Guillaume Tell; Andante e tema con variazioni
PERFORMER: Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia/Antonio Pappano

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Antonio Pappano’s collection of Rossini overtures is a fairly standard selection – of the seven operatic introductions only Le siège de Corinthe is relatively unfamiliar – but what marks it out as special is the quality of the playing and the interpretation. La scala di seta is spick and span, with a definite flourish in the unfurling of the title’s silken ladder at the opening. Il signor Bruschino is spry, with sharp definition. The Barber of Seville’s sly wit shines through Pappano’s perfectly managed performance. Ebullience and good-humour characterise Cenerentola, though again Pappano never overdoes such qualities – everything is immaculately judged.

He can rely on the strong foundation of the Santa Cecilia’s string tone, and the colour and shapeliness of their wind solos; they are particularly delightful as they ricochet decoratively around the main theme (second time around) of Semiramide, before bringing vitality and brilliance to the martial Siege of Corinth and the four tone-pictures of Guillaume Tell, with its suitably electrifying operatic storm.

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Four of the wind soloists return in the disc’s most unusual item – the little known theme and variations for flute, clarinet, horn and bassoon. Rossini puts them through their virtuoso paces, and they come through with flying colours.
George Hall