Rossini: Complete Overtures, Volume 1
Any self-respecting music-lover will have at least two or three of Rossini's Overtures in their collections. The best-known of them, including The Barber Of Seville and The Thieving Magpie, are so breezy, bracing and infectious in their cocktail of Rossinian ingredients – those crescendos, accelerations and accumulations – that they remain irresistible in their headlong momentum. They are always detached from their operas, and sometimes I suspect that many organisations have become snooty about them, consigning them to populist concert status. If so, that is a failure on the part of those critics. This is effervescent music that, in the right hands, retains its full sparkle and splendour. And here is a cracking, taut and exhilarating new set from the terrifically lean and energetic Prague Sinfonia, directed with full Rossinian dynamism and momentum by Christian Benda. It features the already mentioned favourites, along with Semiramide, The Siege Of Corinth and a few less-familiar items. Thrilling, and the first of a four-volume set.