Donato Renzetti

Johann Simon Mayr-Overtures

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Giovanni Simone Mayr's opera overtures provide the easiest introduction to this prolific but nearly forgotten composer, yet most listeners will wonder why they sound so utterly like Rossini's overtures. This is understandable, not only because Rossini's works are still popular concert staples, while Mayr's are seldom played, but also because Rossini studiously emulated Mayr's dramatic forms, colorful orchestration, and Neapolitan melodies, as well as his special incrementally swelling effect that is now known as the "Rossini crescendo." With this in mind, one should listen past the obvious similarities to discover a composer of abundant humor and charm, a craftsman of ingenuity and thematic invention, and a master of instrumental repartee and exciting orchestral climaxes. Donato Renzetti and the Orchestra Stabile di Bergamo recorded these overtures at the resonant Teatro San Pietro in 1995, and their polished performances reveal not only their delight in reviving this rarely played music, but also considerable pride in Mayr, who made Bergamo his home for over 40 years. The sound quality is terrific, so the numerous woodwind solos are clear and vivid, and the orchestra is finely balanced in the tutti passages.