One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,416 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All APR reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount




CD: AmazonUK AmazonUS

Overtures and Preludes
Giuseppe VERDI
Les vêpres siciliennes: Overture (1855) [9:12]¹
La traviata: Prelude to Act I (1853) [4:37]¹
La traviata: Prelude to Act III (1853) [5:06]¹
La forza del destino: Overture (1862) [7:55]¹
Nabucco: Overture (1842) [8:17]²
Aïda: Prelude to Act I (1871) [4:10]²
Vincenzo BELLINI (1801-1835)
Norma: Overture (1831) [5:33]³
Norma: Prelude to Act III (1831) [3:49]*
Gioacchino ROSSINI (1792-1868)
La cenerentola: Overture (1817) [8:27]³
Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1848)
Linda di Chamounix: Overture (1842) [7:09]³
Don Pasquale: Overture (1843) [8:44]³
¹Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, ² ³Philharmonia Orchestra, *Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala/Tullio Serafin
rec. ¹Kingsway Hall, 1959; Abbey Road Studio No. 1, ²February 1959, ³April 1961; *Teatro alla Scala, Milan, September 1960
MEDICI MASTERS MM008-2 [71:57]

Experience Classicsonline

A conductor who works extensively in the opera house is likely to develop a different feeling for the overtures and preludes, bound up with their role in the overall drama. The better items in this program, led by veteran conductor Serafin, bear this out.

The overture to La forza del destino is an effective piece when played for sheer brilliance; Serafin also finds dignity in it, along with a dramatic arc. Two passages in particular stand out. His treatment of the clarinet theme at 4:00 is unusually relaxed - Verdi requests Allegro brillante - but the player has time to "sing", and the textures are spacious. Some pages later, at 5:08, the conductor draws a sharp, and effective, contrast between the solemn brass chorale and the strings' energetic answering phrases. Such insights compensate for some stiff transitional ritards earlier in the piece.

It's good to have the two Norma selections, though it's clear why they don't get much play on their own, even on disc. The overture is more a series of loosely bound dramatic gestures, proceeding in fits and starts, than a full-fledged, stand-alone concert piece. Similarly, the third act prelude is beautiful, but, not being followed here by the third act, it fades away inconclusively. The Philharmonia is rhythmically alert in the overture, while the Scala forces bring comparable polish to the prelude.

The Donizetti overtures, too, are a nice change of pace from the familiar Rossini. The lithe urgency with which Serafin invests the body of the Linda di Chamounix carries the listener past the variously skittish, unkempt timing of all the rolling upbeats. A similar energy infuses the cheerful, and neater, Don Pasquale, once past the opening, where the cello soloist seems uncertain about the rubato. Here is where players who understand the style can make a difference: on an Erato LP program (Musical Heritage Society in the U.S.), the Monte Carlo Opera Orchestra - a lesser ensemble, to be sure - gave Claudio Scimone more comfortably idiomatic playing.

Among the other Philharmonia selections, the Aïda is pleasant and unexceptionable. In the otherwise well-ordered Nabucco, Serafin inexplicably slams on the brakes at 6:27, as if to allow for more time to articulate - did the Philharmonia strings really need it? - and never quite recovers the initial tempo. Another such distracting meno mosso, beginning at 3:40 of the Cenerentola, sounds more an interpretive than a practical choice, but it kills the momentum equally well.

Finally, there's no getting around it: the first three Verdi selections are just awful. The same RPO that played the Forza so confidently here can't seem to understand the conductor's beat, or his musical intentions. The double pickups in the Vespri introduction are nervous, and rarely together; in the tuttis, the violins consistently race ahead of everyone else. The two Traviata preludes move more slowly, but the textures are that much more exposed, as is the tentative ensemble. The violins sound lovely when inhabiting the higher positions but too much else goes by the board. In the third-act prelude, Serafin takes the big theme broadly. At first, it suggests sustained concentration, but the continuity begins to lapse - within phrases as well as between them - and the music doesn't cohere.

I can't really recommend this program as a whole. Indeed, I'm surprised the first three selections were passed for LP release in the first place. That said, there's some good music, and some good music-making, to be found. It's your call.

Stephen Francis Vasta


























































































Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.