ROSSINI Overtures • Evelino Pidò, cond; Royal PO • ROYAL PHILHARMONIC 28240 (54:10)
Overtures to: Il barbieri di Siviglia; La scala di seta; L’italiana in Algeri; Il signor Bruschino; Il turco in Italia; La cenerentola; La cambiale di matrimonio; La pietra del paragon
The overtures appended to Rossini’s operas have maintained a life of their own independent of their opera-house duty. Rossini predicted that the operaRead moreIl barbieri di Siviglia and some of the overtures would have a long life, longer than most of his other works. Until the Rossini revival in the last half of the 20th century, he was correct. About a dozen of the 20-plus overtures he composed have found their way into many concerts and recordings, as background music in films and commercials, and to generations of cowboy fans, Rossini was the music behind “Hi Yo Silver.” (Question: Where does the Lone Ranger take his trash? A: To the dump, to the dump, to the dump-dump-dump.) To acquire this iconic gallop, the first LP I ever bought was an RCA Victor album of Rossini overtures conducted by Toscanini. I was 11 years old, and quickly loved all the other selections, perhaps even more than Guillaume Tell. Discovering and appreciating the operas would come about a decade later. My shelves abound with Rossini, both the complete operas and quite a few discs of overtures.
I would never part with the Neville Marriner “Complete Overtures,” or the original-instrument London Classical Players under Roger Norrington, and I have often played the album that includes eight of the overtures played by the conductorless Orpheus Chamber Orchestra (ironically because it does not include the William Tell, which has appeared on so many albums it has reached the status of “too much of a good thing”).
Now we have this collection of eight overtures frothily played by the Royal PO under Evelino Pidò. The overtures are gathered under the title “Comic Overtures,” more concise but less accurate than “Overtures to Comic Operas.” To muddy the waters, some of these overtures were also attached to several of Rossini’s serious and semi-serious works. Il barbieri di Siviglia’s began as the Overture to Aureliano in Palmira, and with some revisions prefaced Elisabetta. The overture to L’italiana in Algeri was later used (in part) as the Overture to Sigismondo, and then rescored as the Overture to Otello; and the overture to La pietra del paragon was used again for Tancredi. But, the titles you see on this album are generally the titles by which they are best known. The only item on this Royal PO album that is something of a rarity is the overture to La pietra del paragon. It is from one of Rossini’s early big hits and contains all of the Rossini composing trademarks: the jaunty tunes, infectious rhythms, and, of course, the crescendo. Musical jokes and imaginative harmonies permeate these works, including the unusual orchestral sound of the violinists tapping their bows on the music stands.
The Royal PO plays these pieces with verve and a lightness that brings out all the mirth and joy. The performances reminded me of Norrington’s, but the sound on the Royal PO album is richer and more full-bodied. Musical details and subtle inner voices are nevertheless evident. Pidò’s tempos are appropriate to the various moods: they are jaunty, with lots of fizzle—and he supplies plenty of muscle for the crescendos. It may not be like hearing this music for the first time, but after listening to this album, you may be like me and look forward to playing it again— and soon. I found the sparkle in these performances very enjoyable.
Marriner’s approach is not quite as ebullient. They are very thoughtfully executed, but lack the overt sparkle found on the albums by Pidò, Norrington, and Orpheus. The real value of the Marriner set is having all the Rossini overtures. In addition to the four albums I have cited, there are many others. Most are single discs that include (on average) seven to nine selections, giving you the choice to pick your favorites. I liked this new Royal PO very much. If Pidò’s choice of these eight overtures appeals to you, and you don’t need the William Tell, I recommend it. The only thing that could have made this album better would have been the inclusion of the overture to L’inganno felice, an unexplained omission.
La pietra del paragone: Overtureby Gioachino Rossini Conductor:
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic Written: 1812; Italy
Average Customer Review: ( 2 Customer Reviews )
Fun OverturesSeptember 1, 2016By owen ryan (lakewood, CA)See All My Reviews"I used up all my superlatives in my review of the Reiner/CSO disc of Rossini overtures. They would have been put to better use in this review. Reiner's performance seems more ''stately'' compared to Pido. This disc does offer some different selections and thus is not redundant; a good companion to Reiner. These are dramatic performances played for full effect-- I think Rossini would approve. The superb audio on this recording greatly enhances the music (and just may make it seem more dramatic than Reiner). This is first rate digital sound with stunning clarity and definition. Highly recommended."Report Abuse
Bravura PerformanceMay 16, 2015By Henry S. (Springfield, VA)See All My Reviews"I am sure that most opera fans will agree that Rossini's operas, from the least known to the most famous, are incredible experiences- full of wit and humor, great singing, and of course the spectacular orchestral scores. What sets the stage for anyone's listening experience in all cases are the wonderful Rossini overtures, which can be played separately as concert pieces. For anyone unfamiliar with these delicious little tidbits, this very fine recording by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra functions as an enticing introduction to the world of the Italian master. Rossini's overtures seem to follow a general template- a slow and stately, even solemn opening, but quickly followed by a whirlwind of jaunty, light themes played at breakneck speed, leading up to a Mach 10 crescendo, bringing the overture to a close and leaving the listener hanging on for dear life. The RPO is in top form here under the baton of Evelino Pido, and the results speak for themselves... about 55 minutes of exhilarating, fun-filled music played by one of the world's finest orchestras. Don't miss it!!"Report Abuse