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Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868)
Complete Overtures - Volume 2
Guillaume Tell [11:37]
Eduardo e Cristina [9:17]
L’inganno felice [6:07]
La scala di seta [6:01]
Demetrio e Polibio [6:31]
Il Signor Bruschino [4:52]
Sinfonia di Bologna [5:26]
Sigismondo [8:30]
Prague Sinfonia Orchestra/Christian Benda
rec. Kulturni Dů Barikádníků, Prague, 5-6 September 2011; Prodikční dům Vzlet, Prague, 30-31 May 2012
NAXOS 8.570934 [58:21]

I was very impressed by the first volume of this intended set of four discs. This made me a little apprehensive as to whether the standard would be kept up. There was however no need for this, as here is another excellent disc to join not only the previous Rossini disc but two discs of Schubert’s complete Overtures from the same performers.
 
Once again we are offered a mixture of the familiar and the less familiar. The former include the best known of all - that to Guillaume Tell. It is performed with panache and colour, with the woodwind solos in the ranz des vaches played with great character. I was a little disconcerted by the comparatively slow pace for the final galop, but it does allow the proper articulation of the rhythm. If this is allowed to degenerate into an approximation it becomes merely hectic and loses any real excitement. It is possible to achieve both - Toscanini did it to a stunning degree - but the present version is more than acceptable even if memories of Toscanini’s way with it did keep coming back.
 
The other two more familiar works - La scala di seta and Il Signor Bruschino - are given very spry performances, possibly a little too much so in the case of the former which is taken at a surprisingly fast speed. In these and their less familiar companions the delightful woodwind solo playing is one of the main attractions of the disc, but throughout the orchestra play with abundant character, lively articulation and an absence of any hint of routine. There is a bounce and wit in the playing which is wholly appropriate to these works.
 
Again there are full and helpful notes by Keith Anderson and a clear recording in acoustics well suited to the music.
 
If you want more than the six or eight of the composer’s best known Overtures this series would provide a very satisfactory way of obtaining them.  

John Sheppard
 
See also review by Raymond Walker