Gianandrea Noseda / BBC Philharmonic Orchestra

Italian Intermezzo: Music without Words

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In addition to some standard repertoire, Gianandrea Noseda has made a specialty of recording obscure works for Chandos: Rachmaninov's three one-act operas, music by Italian modernists like Casella and Dallapiccola, and late Romantic Polish composer Mieczyslaw Karlowicz. A similar mix of the familiar and the rare characterizes this album, Italian Intermezzo: Music without Words. The intermezzos, preludes, and instrumental sections come from operas as familiar as La traviata, Manon Lescaut, Suor Angelica, and I Pagliacci, and as nearly forgotten as Giordano's Siberia, Catalani's Loreley, and Wolf-Ferrari's I quattro rusteghi. There are some conspicuous omissions, most noticeably the ubiquitous Intermezzo from Cavalleria rusticana, but the Intermezzo from Mascagni's less frequently performed L'amico Fritz is included. The majority come from operas written after 1890, the era of verismo and Puccini (who is represented by three selections), but pieces from La traviata and La Gioconda are also included. There are a few portentously Wagnerian intermezzi, but most tend to have a more inward, often elegiac tone. They are not uniform in quality; as might be expected, the Verdi and Puccini stand out, as does Ponchielli's "Dance of the Hours," and Giordano's ruminations on the "Volga Boatmen's Song" in the Prelude to Act II from Siberia are downright embarrassing, but some rarities, such as the Cilèa, are absolutely lovely. The BBC Philharmonic plays with sensitivity under Noseda's leadership, but the sound lacks the Italianate warmth and sensuality that would be ideal for this music. Chandos' sound is mostly clean, clear, and balanced, but sometimes it is so close that the clicking of the woodwinds' keys is distractingly audible.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Adriana Lecouvreur
1 2:50
Manon Lescaut
2 5:01
3 5:57
Suor Angelica
4 3:43
5 4:06
6 9:00
L'Amico Fritz
7 4:59
La traviata
8 3:27
9 4:30
10 4:02
La Wally
11 4:05
12 6:36
I Quattro Rusteghi
13 3:32
Jewels of The Madonna
14 4:35
I Pagliacci
15 3:34
16 2:27
blue highlight denotes track pick