Notes and Editorial Reviews
It's a great time to be a piano fan, and anyone who feels that all of the great artists are dead really needs a reality check. There have been some stupendous releases lately: Hamelin's Alkan Concerto for Solo Piano (Hyperion), Sudbin's Scriabin recital (BIS), and just about anything by Nelson Freire (Decca), but few discs have given me more unalloyed pleasure than Paolo Giacometti's Rossini piano music series for Channel Classics. He's not the only person recording this music at present; there are competing cycles on Chandos and MDG. But fine as those sometimes are, no one matches Giacometti in terms of consistency, brilliance, choice of instrument, and stylishness, nor does the competition match
Channel Classics' exceptionally clean and clear sonics.
This final release in the series contains the delicious Quatre hors d'oeuvres and Quatre mendiants, and a delightful miscellany of other works besides. The hors d'oeuvres consist of radishes, anchovies, pickles, and a substantial finale in the form of butter. The mendiants include dried figs, almonds, raisins, and hazelnuts. Charming though the titles are, they have nothing to do with the actual music, which, like so many of Rossini's "sins of old age", is actually quite substantial--"Butter" alone lasts nearly eight minutes. But however you look at it, these pieces are genuine treats. Perhaps this is what Rossini had in mind all along.
As with previous releases in this series, the music is ravishingly performed on a crystalline-toned period piano, but for my money the most fascinating piece here is the Petite Promenade De Passy a Courbevoie, which sounds scarily like the opening of Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum from Debussy's Children's Corner. It's wonderful to see Rossini's piano music getting so much attention, and no one has done more than Giacometti to win it the high regard it surely deserves. I'm sorry to see this series end, even as I look forward to Giacometti's next project. Essential!
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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