Pietro Spada

Giovanni Paisiello: Piano Concertos Nos. 1, 3, 4 & 7

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The development of the piano concerto in the eighteenth century would be unimaginable without Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, but the same claim cannot be made for Giovanni Paisiello. Most influential as a composer of operas, Paisiello turned with difficulty to instrumental forms and lacked the facility and genius that enabled Mozart to master and enlarge every genre he encountered. Paisiello's eight piano concertos have some superficial similarities to Mozart's, particularly in style and orchestration, and often approach Mozart's concertos in length. Yet Paisiello's bland thematic material and routine developments mark his concertos as labored, almost utilitarian, pieces, and far from innovative or daring masterworks. Pianist and conductor Pietro Spada clearly would disagree, for he has exerted considerable effort in reviving Paisiello's concertos; he has even composed new cadenzas for the Piano Concertos No. 5, No. 6, and No. 8. Spada's idiomatic readings with the Orchestra da Camera di Santa Cecilia may appeal to connoisseurs of neglected Classical music, and may even stimulate some interest in Paisiello's other orchestral pieces. But the value of Paisiello's music and these recordings may be judged on how often they invite repeated listening; they deserve at least one hearing, but after that, this disc is likely to gather dust. The sound quality is passable, if a little murky at times in the orchestra.

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