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Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1848)
Sinfonia a soli instrumenti di fiato in G minor, reconstructed Päuler
Concertino in C minor for flute and chamber orchestra, orchestrated Hoffmann
Concertino in F major for oboe and chamber orchestra, orchestrated Hoffmann
Concertino in S minor for violin, cello and orchestra, reconstructed Wojciechowski
Concertino in G major for clarinet and orchestra
Concertino in B flat major for clarinet and orchestra
Sinfonia in D minor per la Morte di Capuzzi
Imre Kovács (flute)
József Kiss (oboe)
Ágnes Girgás (cor anglais)
Béla Kovács (clarinet)
András Kiss (violin)
Judit Kiss Domonkos (cello)
Camerata Budapest/László Kovács
Recorded at Festetich Castle, Budapest, 1994
NAXOS 8.557492 [64.19]


I suppose Donizetti couldn’t be untuneful if he’d tried. His instrumental concertos (concertinos in fact) offer irrefutable evidence of it though in this field he’s almost an invisible and inaudible feature on the concert platform. Some, it’s true, have been reconstructed – the Sinfonia in G by Bernhard Päuler and the Concertino for Clarinet has been edited from the composer’s sketches – the second movement of which in the original is described as existing in a "very defective" state. So in addition to the occasional nature of these works and the rather occluded place in Donizetti’s compositional life we have to contend with imperfectly preserved scores, reconstructions, orchestrations and the fact that these are, in the main, relatively early works.

I can’t pretend that Naxos has unearthed long buried treasure but there are still plenty of pleasing features. The big portentous sliver of an introduction to the G minor Sinfonia is one – theatrically it gives way almost immediately to lively material in a forward moving Andante. The Flute Concertino is perky, brisk and vocalised whilst the very lightly orchestrated Oboe Concertino is deftly written for the solo instrument – and as elsewhere the Hungarian soloists prove worthy ambassadors. The work for violin, cello and orchestra is very early and has a gracious and charming impress but it’s that for cor anglais which bears a much greater weight of interest in its bright theatricality, full of tonguing demands and tests on the soloist’s legato. The soloist’s tone takes a bit of getting used to – there’s something of a quack to it – but the technical demands are well met.

I liked and welcomed the gravity of the Clarinet Concertino and the kick for the basses in the finale and the very dramatic and public final piece, an In Memoriam for Antonio Capuzzi, violinist and orchestral leader. Again this is a reconstruction but the outline and schema of Larghetto-Allegro Vivace is quite clear.

So no masterpieces. But good recorded sound and notes and a pleasant hour’s worth of music with this unfailingly fluent melodist.

Jonathan Woolf

see also review by Patrick Waller

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