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Verdi: Overtures, Etc / Mackerras, Philharmonia Orchestra


Release Date: 04/13/2004 
Label:  Testament   Catalog #: 1326   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
Conductor:  Sir Charles Mackerras
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 17 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

“I suppose it can be confidently asserted that Sir Charles Mackerras is the only Knight of the Realm who speaks Czech and was born in Schenectady, New York (of Australian parents). I assert less confidently that he is (along with Jean Fournet) one of the last two living conductors to have one of his recordings issued on 78s (his first recording of the Sullivan-Mackerras Pineapple Poll —though probably via tape, rather than the old-fashioned four-minutes-at-a-time technique). This pair of CDs seems to span the cusp between EMI’s reluctance to abandon monaural recording and the company’s eventual decision that stereo wasn’t going to be a passing fad. Testament has, for whatever reason, decided to mix the two techniques on this pair of Read more CDs. For example, on SBT 1326, the three Verdi overtures, recorded in 1958, are stereo, while Mackerras’s first recording of The Lady and the Fool, his arrangement of (mostly) obscure Verdi music for a ballet, recorded in 1956, is monaural. The latter made a brief appearance on an RCA Victor LP (LM-2039) in 1958 before quickly disappearing the next year. It’s an oddity anyway—by 1958, EMI had been issuing LPs in the United States on its own Angel label for several years. Why The Lady and the Fool ended up on RCA Victor is something I can’t explain. Six excerpts from the ballet also appeared on a London LP (LD 9128) with Robert Irving at the helm. Later, Mackerras made a stereo recording with the London Philharmonic that last appeared on Classics for Pleasure, which I have not heard. To his credit, Mackerras does not treat the overture to La forza del destino as the potboiler it can become in mediocre hands. It has a “scrubbed-up” freshness and is well calculated, with silences effectively used for dramatic punctuation. When a solid solemnity is needed, it’s there. There is also impressive bass detail. Mackerras even makes a case for a real potboiler, the overture to Nabucco, which also benefits from not being tossed-off. He does equal service for the quirky Alzira Overture. As for The Lady and the Fool, I never would have believed that one could arrange so “balletic” a score from Verdi’s music (54 minutes’ worth). It is true that some of it actually is ballet music, but some of it is taken from arias and ensembles and works splendidly. I wish I had seen the choreography. It helps, of course, that most of the music comes from Verdi’s less-familiar (especially back in 1956) operas; “La donna è mobile” or “Celeste Aida” would have been a harder sell as dance music.”

James Miller, FANFARE
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Works on This Recording

1.
La forza del destino: Overture by Giuseppe Verdi
Conductor:  Sir Charles Mackerras
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1862/1869; Italy 
2.
The Lady and the Fool by Giuseppe Verdi
Conductor:  Sir Charles Mackerras
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Notes: 'The Lady and the Fool' is a ballet score assembled by John Cranko from
various works by Verdi.
Arranged: Charles Mackerras 
3.
Nabucco: Overture by Giuseppe Verdi
Conductor:  Sir Charles Mackerras
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1842; Italy 
4.
Alzira: Overture by Giuseppe Verdi
Conductor:  Sir Charles Mackerras
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1845; Italy 

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