Antonio Pappano

Rossini: Overtures

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It would be hard to find ground more trodden in the orchestral repertory than the Rossini overtures recorded here by Antonio Pappano and the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, most of all the William Tell (Guillaume Tell) Overture made popular by The Lone Ranger. And, as a result, the album offers a strong illustration of why this conductor has become so popular. Not only does he make the William Tell Overture sound completely fresh, with such a wealth of delicately traced instrumental detail in the earlier sections that the listener will almost forget the famous finale is coming. He structures the entire program in a way that's both fun and instructive. The seven overtures are presented in chronological order, beginning with the rarely heard but very effective La scala di seta overture (1812) and ending with William Tell (1829). This is not a common way to perform them, but it works: the big tunes are there throughout, but the internal structure and especially the orchestration bloom like the interior petals of a flower. The similarly rare Andante e tema con variazioni, a set of variations for chamber winds from 1812, is another bonus, in this little piece Rossini seems to have developed some of the wind writing woven throughout the overtures. A superior Rossini instrumental album that anyone might enjoy, most especially those who've heard it all before.

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