Not only is Sir Antonio Pappano a marvellous conductor but with his frequent and invariably cogent introductory talks that accompany opera streaming to cinemas worldwide and his series of television programmes he is becoming known to a whole new audience. Owing to this international exposure I can see him becoming as influential as Leonard Bernstein was for his television broadcasts in the States in the 1950s and 1960s.
I know that Pappano programmes a wide range of music in his concert programmes but with his Italian heritage the music of Italian opera represent lifeblood running through his veins. It’s especially appropriate that he has released this recording as music director of his Orchestra of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia. In 2010 he demonstrated his innate grasp of Rossini with a well received series of concert performances of Guillaume Tell
(in French) with the self-same orchestra playing in the Sala Santa Cecilia, Rome. This was recorded by EMI Classics and issued in an 3 disc set (review
Richard Osborne’s biography of Rossini credits the composer with thirty-five operas. It was Guillaume Tell
in 1829 that marked the end of Rossini’s career as an opera composer although he was to live for another forty years. Here on Warner Classics we have seven overtures presented in chronological order including the less often encountered Le siège de Corinthe
. It's rather surprising that the much loved overtures La Gazza Ladra
and L'italiana in Algeri
are not included as this single disc has the space to have accommodated either.
This is fresh, alert and exuberant playing that conveys a strong sense of sheer enjoyment in these delightful overtures. My highlights are the enduringly popular Il Barbiere di Siviglia
especially effervescent and the charming La Cenerentola
which radiates joie de vivre
. At over twelve minutes the lengthy Semiramide
, so full of sprightly rhythms, is a joy to hear and one of the finest overtures ever written. Guillaume Tell
is riveting from start to finish. It is always a pleasure to hear the renowned cello solo in Guillaume Tell
especially when it is played as gloriously as it is here. Serving as a fill-up, the instrumental Andante e tema con variazioni
for wind quartet is a fascinating morsel showing another agreeable side of Rossini and it is splendidly played here by the section principals.
Recorded in Rome at various dates between 2008 and 2014 the sound quality is first rate and is especially clear and well balanced.