Christian Benda / Prague Sinfonia Orchestra

Rossini: Complete Overtures, Vol. 3 - La Cenerentola; L'Italiana in Algeri; Tancredi

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The third installment in Naxos' series of the complete overtures of Gioachino Rossini offers, like the previous volumes, a mix of familiar and neglected works. The best-known overtures on this disc are from the operas L'Italiana in Algeri and La cenerentola, which appear regularly on concert programs and orchestral compilations, and here they receive entertaining performances by Christian Benda and the Prague Sinfonia Orchestra. With the exception of the overture to Tancredi, which still gets performed occasionally, the rest of the program is rather obscure, though quite engaging, as one might expect of Rossini. The Grand overtura "obbligata a contrabasso" was a student work, and the overture to La cambiale di matrimonio comes from Rossini's first professionally staged work, yet both pieces show Rossini's characteristic wit and tunefulness. Maometto II and Matilde di Shabran were mature operas, and though they were successes in their time, they fell out of the repertoire and since the 20th century only their overtures have been performed, albeit sporadically. Benda and his musicians give these overtures delightful performances, with an emphasis on their jaunty passages, and listeners can easily recognize characteristic effects, which the orchestra brings off with panache.

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