Most compilations of Gioachino Rossini's comic opera overtures are comparable to this CD's program, and usually include such favorites as Il barbiere di Siviglia, L'italiana in Algeri, La scala di seta, and La cenerentola. However, the popular overture to La gazza ladra is sadly missing on this Royal Philharmonic Collection album, and its absence may be a deal breaker for some potential purchasers. Still, the overtures that are offered are representative of Rossini's buoyant style, and even the less frequently played pieces, such as the overtures to La cambiale de matrimonio and La pietra del paragone, overflow with comic themes and exciting effects, including the long build-ups known as "Rossini crescendos." The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra is led by Evelino Pidò, a noted opera conductor and expert in Rossini's music, so the performances are not only as polished as one might expect from this esteemed ensemble, but interpreted with a secure understanding of the composer's jovial expression and theatrical idiom. Of some concern is the sound of the recordings, which is generally fine but not as deep or spacious as other recordings in this line. If this consideration is weighed against the high quality of the performances, it may seem a minor issue, but it might be a decisive factor in choosing between this and another disc that offers fuller and richer sound with a somewhat broader selection of Rossini's hits.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson