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Gioachino Rossini (1792-1868) - Overture: The Italian Girl in Algiers

Listening to Rossini overtures back-to-back can be rather like watching a fashion show: the pretty clothes change, but they’re all hung on the same old dummies (sorry, “elegant models”!). Rossini’s high turnover, around 40 operas between 1806 and 1829, together with his habit of leaving the overture until last - sometimes even the last minute! - necessitated working to a formula. It was, however, a winning formula, made subtly elastic by Rossini’s endlessly inventive wit.” 

If L’Italiana in Algeri seems to start too quietly to do its “audience shutter-upper” job, watch out! There are two main subjects: a dashing allegro followed by a cheeky oboe tune which blends into the obligatory “Rossini crescendo” - conventional enough, but the immediate reprise springs a surprise. This spumanti is “shaken, not stirred” - by a sly, convention-scuppering modulation which ensures maximum sparkle and fizz - and auditory attentiveness - right to the very last drop. 

Note originally commissioned by the Vancouver Symphony for a concert given on 28 May 2005
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© Paul Serotsky
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