There are many discs of Rossini Overtures already
on the market, including classics by Giulini, Toscanini, Reiner
Chailly, Norrington and many others, as well as a complete set by Sir
Neville Marriner and the first volume of a very promising complete set
from Naxos under Christian
. Any new disc needs to be very special to make much headway
in the face of such competition.
The choice of content is likely to be the first consideration, and the
inclusion of Tancredi
here is a positive step in that direction.
The statement on the cover that it is played in a revised version by
Philip Gossett may suggest that it is significantly different to what
is usually heard but in fact the audible differences are few. Otherwise
the choice here is predictable especially if you are not misled by the
apparent rarity of the inclusion of the Overture to Elisabetta, regina
This was later reused by Rossini for Il
Barbiere di Siviglia
. The overall playing time of under fifty minutes
is not generous.
The best item by far is the Overture to Il turco in Italia
is given a spry and characterful performance. If the disc were all as
good as this is would be well worth having, but the others are less
good. All too often this is not so much a matter of lacking individuality
as of attempting to achieve too much of it. Speeds are too often ill
chosen, too slow or more often too fast, especially in La scala di
. The crucial trumpet call announcing the
in Guillaume Tell
lacks energy and is too recessed.
Perhaps these points are the result of these being live recordings,
but whatever the reason I felt little inclination to listen again. The
producers of the disc have not helped by including short bursts of applause
after each item - a longer one after the last - followed almost immediately
by the next Overture. This makes listening an unsettling experience
overall. In addition the brief notes in the leaflet are printed in very
small print in white against a black background making reading unnecessarily
All of this is a great pity as in general the actual orchestral playing
on the disc is first rate. As it is I can see little reason to favour
this disc over the many earlier discs of this repertoire.