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Early Music

Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger



Giovanni PAISIELLO (1741-1816)
Sinfonia d’Opera: Allegro vivace [4:59]
Piano Concerto No. 2 in F [19:04]
Overture in D from the opera Proserpine [5:51]
Piano Concerto No. 4 in g minor [24:41]
Francesco Nicolosi, piano
Collegium Philarmonicum Chamber Orchestra/Gennaro Cappabianca
Rec. Court of the Royal Palace Theatre, Caserta, Italy, 25-28 February 2003. DDD
NAXOS 8.557031 [54:35]



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Giovanni Paisiello deserves at least a modicum of recognition for being a composer with fine melodic gifts and an ear for musical structure in a generation that preceded the great Viennese composers of the classical era. He left behind eight keyboard concertos, but was more widely recognized in his day as a composer of operas, an art in which he met great success during his lifetime, and has still enjoyed some favor amongst the ranks of the musical revivalist crowd in this present age.

This disc of charming and elegant works gives evidence that the Neapolitan composer indeed is worthy of at least an occasional hearing in the modern era, and we can be grateful to Naxos for being ever so diligent in their adventuresome selection of repertoire. God help us if Klaus Heyman every runs out of interesting music to record.

The works will remind seasoned listeners of similar creations by Haydn and a very young Mozart. Tuneful and graceful, this music is as non-threatening as it comes. Francesco Nicolosi plays his modern grand piano with aplomb, the passagework is clean and he can produce a lovely cantabile in the slower movements. The Collegium Philarmonicum is a taut little band with excellent ensemble and intonation. In short, this is a lovely recording of some very pleasant, if not utterly consequential music, and worth a place on your record shelf.

Paulo Isotta has written a set of program notes that are well, nauseous. He makes totally pretentious and condescending remarks like: "It would be foolish to ask today whether these pieces should be played on the harpsichord, the hybrid fortepiano or the modern pianoforte" then proceeds to berate period keyboard instruments in a most unattractive way. Really? It seems to me that with the light orchestration and the refined nature of the music itself, that the lighter instruments would be quite pleasant indeed.

Then we get "…Francesco Nicolosa, who has acquired a reputation as one of our greatest living pianists."

Nicola who? Funny this is the first time in twenty years in the music business that I have ever heard of him. That is not to say that he isn’t a fine musician, he is, but please, the notes sound as though his manager wrote them. A scholarly essay is not the place for such pronouncements.

In short, the entire essay is hyperbolic, giving composer and performers both far more glory than they have either earned or deserve. For some reason, for all the things that Naxos does well, they are least consistent in the department of documentation. For one of the leading labels in the world, this is a problem that should be addressed and soon.

Naxos have adopted a new disc and packaging design which I for one find appealing.

Kevin Sutton



Gerard Hoffnung CDs

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