Taken by itself, this is an enjoyable disc with quite a natural acoustic and an orchestra which, although apparently not even sure what name to assume [the CD liner notes call it the Zagreb Philharmonic, the cover says Zagreb Festival Orchestra], was obviously inspired by Michael Halász to an enthusiastic performance of these Rossini evergreens (including, of course, the “William Tell” overture with its wonderful conclusion – remembered by us of the “war baby” generation as the theme music to the “Lone Ranger”!). The recording was made in January 1989, and although I have never come across any other recordings from the former Yugoslavia (Zagreb is now the capital city of Croatia), this seems to be perfectly adequate. So why did I say, “taken by itself”? Well, the CD market is changing rapidly, and a while back I found exactly the same repertoire on a Surround-optimized CD from Decca at budget-price. And as one might expect, the sound of the 1991 Decca recording is superior in many ways. It may not be quite so “natural” as the Zagreb offering, but you get to hear all the detail in astounding clarity, and the playing of the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal under the baton of Charles Dutoit is, to be honest, a cut above that of the Croatians, however likeable the Naxos disc may be. – Rossini’s music, by the way, has always been extremely popular, but it was also criticized harshly by some of his fellow-composers (such as Berlioz) for being too facile, a point which one can understand: There is felicitous melody here, mixed with some wonderful mood-catching, but the whole seems to be directed purely towards “effect” – there is no comparison to Beethoven, for example (unless you happen to be thinking of “Wellington’s Victory”!). My recommendation to newcomers would be to go for the Dutoit if it is available; if not, the Halász should be enough to keep most listeners happy.