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Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1848)
Instrumental Concertos

Sinfonia a soli instrumenti di fiato in G minor (1817)
Concertino in C minor for flute and chamber orchestra (1819)
Concertino in F for oboe and chamber orchestra
Concertino in D minor for violin, cello and orchestra
Concertino in G for cor anglais and orchestra (1816)
Concertino in B flat for clarinet and orchestra
Sinfonia in D minor per la Morte di Capuzzi (1818)
Imre Kovács (flute), József Kiss (oboe), Ágnes Girgás (cor anglais), Béla Kovács (clarinet), András Kiss (violin), Judit Kiss Domonkos (cello)
Camarata Budapest/László Kovács
Rec. Festetich Castle, Budapest, June 1994 DDD
NAXOS 8.557492 [64:19]

 

Donizetti was a profilic composer, writing over 600 works, of which at least 50 were operas. Today his fame almost entirely rests on operatic works first produced in the period 1832-1835 (i.e. L’Elisir d’amore, Lucrezia Borgia, Maria Stuarda and Lucia di Lammermoor). Earlier in his career he wrote for the piano, chamber music (including at least 17 string quartets) and sacred works. His output seems to have contained little orchestral music but various instrumental concertinos written when he was about 20 have survived and are presented on this disc. All except the concertino for cor anglais required some recent reconstruction, tasks that on this evidence seem to have been worthwhile.

This music is essentially a stream of melody, grateful on the ear and probably to play, generally lacking in profundity but sufficiently varied to sustain interest. The last work was written for the funeral of Antonio Capuzzi, a violinist and leader of the orchestra in Bergamo where Donizetti spent his formative years. The only purely orchestral work here (the other sinfonia is for wind only), it contains some dark and stormy moments but in general, throughout this disc, Donizetti’s music sounds as if it could have been written for the voice. The most ambitious work, and the longest at eleven and a half minutes, is the three movement double concerto for violin and cello but don’t base your expectations of this on Brahms’s magnificent creation in this genre. The two solo parts complement each other well but they don’t get the show entirely to themselves since there are also important wind parts, notably for the flute. To my ears the most memorable work is the concertino for cor anglais which is an andante with a set of variations.

These performances were recorded about ten years ago and originally appeared on the Marco Polo label. Naxos seems to be continuing its sensible policy of re-issuing such discs at bargain price. The six solo artists all give good accounts of themselves and the Camerata Budapest are a modest-sized but excellent band. The recording is natural and consistently well-balanced. Documentation is adequate but a bit skimpier than is usually the case on this label; probably reflecting the fairly obscure origins of the music. The delightful picture on the front cover is of interest since, although anonymously painted, it shows Donizetti with friends in Bergamo. I am guessing but I think he might be second from the right.

This is an enjoyable disc - gracious, undemanding music which is well-played and perfect for relaxation.

Patrick C Waller



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