Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868)
Complete Overtures - Volume 3
Maometto II (1822 Venice version) [11:15]
L’Italiana in Algeri [8:01]
La Cenerentola [8:09]
Gran ‘overtura “obligato a contrabasso” [7:14]
Matilde di Shabran [9:30]
La cambiale di matrimonio [5:27]
Tancredi [6:06]
Prague Sinfonia Orchestra/Christian Benda
rec. Kulturni Dů Barikádníků, Prague, 5-6 September 2011; Prodikční dům Vzlet, Prague, 30-31 May 2012
NAXOS 8.570935 [55:42]

In earlier reviews I referred to the first volume in this collection of Rossini’s Overtures as being “an admirable start to what looks like being a very desirable series” and the second as being “another excellent disc”. Now, and with still more to come, I am wondering what else I can say about what is turning out to be one of the most enjoyable series Naxos has produced. Certainly this third disc is at least as good as its predecessors in terms of performance and recording. In terms of the interest and originality of its content it is probably the best so far.
It starts with the Overture to Maometto II . To me this was a real novelty with its striking and dramatic slow introduction leading to an allegro full of surprise and delight. It this is the highlight of the disc the early Gran ‘overtura “obligato a contrabasso” runs it close in terms of invention and memorable substance. L’Italiana in Algeri is more difficult to bring off than might be expected but here the various changes of texture, character and dynamic are placed with deftness. In particular the sly, deadpan, humour of the slow introduction is given just the right weight and is followed by an allegro played with panache, precision and deftness. I cannot imagine it being better done.
Similar comments might be made about all the contents of this disc, which like its predecessors benefits from an acoustic just right for the music and a balance which allows all the detail to be heard. These Overtures certainly make use of a formula, but each work nonetheless has its own individual character.
The admirable notes by Keith Anderson once again place each within the composer’s career.
This is a further excellent addition to an immensely enjoyable series.
John Sheppard

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