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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars One Can Do Better, 10 Nov 2012
J Scott Morrison (Middlebury VT, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Rossini: Complete Overtures Vol 1 (Magpie/ Semiramide/ Otello) (Prague Philharmonic Choir/ Prague Sinfonia Orchestra/ Christian Benda) (Naxos: 8570933) (Audio CD)
The Prague Sinfonia is a subset of the Prague Chamber Orchestra. It has about thirty members and is conducted by Christian Benda, a descendant of the prominent 18th-century Bohemian composers Frantisek and Georg Benda. This disc, labeled Volume 1, apparently is the first in a series of four that will be issued comprising all of Rossini's extant overtures.

The contents, not precisely listed at the time of this review are

1. La Gazza Ladra (The Thieving Magpie)
2. Semiramide
3. Elisabetta, Regina d'Inghilterra (later used unchanged for Il barbiere di Siviglia [The Barber of Seville])
4. Otello
5. Le Siège de Corinthe (L'assedio di Corinto [The Siege of Corinth])
6. Sinfonia in D 'al Conventello'
7. Ermione

A word about the latter two selections: The Sinfonia 'al Conventello' (1804) is not actually an opera overture, but it contains a section that recurs in the overture to 'Il Signor Bruschino' (1813). The overture to 'Ermione' (1819), based on Euripides' and Racine's plays about the Trojan War, is unusual in that it includes a chorus of Trojan prisoners lamenting their fate, sung here by the Prague Sinfonia Choir.

There have been many Rossini overture collections, including outstanding issues by Herbert von Karajan Rossini: Overtures, Neville Marriner Rossini: Complete Overtures, Claudio Abbado Rossini: Overtures and Riccardo Chailly Rossini: Overtures, as well as a conductorless set by the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra Rossini: Overtures, not to speak of that by Arturo Toscanini Rossini: Overtures (Arturo Toscanini Collection, Vol. 47) which, for all its ancient sonics, has performances that put all the others in the shade. Benda's set of performances are creditable but a bit on the dull side. This partly due to the smaller size of his orchestra, making a rather thin sound at times, but more so because of rather uninspired conducting.

Scott Morrison
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