Italian Oboe Concertos
Giovanni Battista SAMMARTINI (1700-1775)
Concerto in G, for oboe, strings and continuo [16:06]
Vincenzo BELLINI (1801-1835)
Concerto in E flat, for oboe and orchestra [6:21]
Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868)
Introduction, Theme and Variations in C, for oboe and orchestra [7:59]
Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1848)
Concertino in G, for cor anglais (oboe) and orchestra (1816) [10:45]
Giuseppe PILOTTI (1784-1838)
Concerto in F, for cor anglais (oboe) and orchestra [7:18]
Sante AGUILAR (1734-1808)
Concerto in C, for oboe and orchestra [9:21]
Diego Dini Ciacci (oboe, conductor)
Orchestra di Padova e del Veneto
rec. Pollini Auditorium, Padova, Italy, September 2009. DDD
CPO 777 715-2 [57:54] 

Four early 19th century works, and two from the late 18th, make up this splendid if somewhat short concert by ace Italian oboist Diego Dini Ciacci and the classy Orchestra di Padova e del Veneto. Soloist and ensemble appeared together on another CPO CD (777 157-2) released half a dozen years ago, in a similar programme showcasing the wind concertos of Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari, a composer better known, like half of those on this disc, for his operas.
The works here by Bellini, Rossini, Donizetti and Pilotti do indeed all bear the stamp of a musician heavily influenced by the opera. They are uncomplicated and relatively unadventurous in scope, melody-driven and highly cantabile. At the same time their moderately virtuosic nature betokens an impressive understanding of the possibilities, as they were at the time, of the oboe - or in Donizetti's and Pilotti's case, the cor anglais.
The two 'truest' concertos, so to speak, are the earlier ones that open and close the disc. Sammartini's 'Sturm und Drang' work is a masterpiece of its time, bristling with colour and emotion. Aguilar's straightforward but attractive Concerto is enhanced by the extended final-movement quotation of a theme from Mozart's Exsultate, Jubilate.  
These two works, plus the Pilotti, are first recordings. Those by Donizetti, Bellini and especially Rossini, on the other hand, have all been recorded many times before. Rossini's Introduction, Theme and Variations is rightly a staple of the clarinettist's repertory. That said, Ciacci points out interestingly in the notes that Rossini originally indicated in his manuscript that the solo part may be taken by either clarinet or oboe. He argues moreover that certain passages are better suited to the latter. However, an unknown hand subsequently crossed out the "oboe" reference, with the rest being history: for 200 years it has been played almost exclusively by the clarinet!
Ciacci (pronounced 'charchee') makes a compelling case for oboists to finally take up the Rossini, but in all these works his performance is sophisticated: expressive, detailed and precise, with an unerring Italian ear for lyricism. His last recording for CPO met with similar critical enthusiasm - see review. The Orchestra di Padova e del Veneto were brought to prominence in the Seventies by Claudio Scimone and in the Nineties by Peter Maag. Now nearing their half-century anniversary, they do not have a huge amount to do in music that always puts the oboist centre-stage; what they do, they do with typical style and poise. They are well recorded too; Ciacci even better. The German-English-Italian booklet notes are well written, informative and well translated.
Collected reviews and contact at
Uncomplicated, relatively unadventurous, melody-driven and highly cantabile.