Christian Benda and the Prague Sinfonia Orchestra this month conclude their acclaimed series of recordings of the complete Overtures by Rossini with the release of Volume 4. The composer's hallmark wit and invention continue to be brilliantly captured by Benda's fine readings, building on the accolades received for the previous volumes. Comedy and tragedy again combine in a single disc of colourful orchestrations and authoritative performances that never fail to surprise and entertain.
“Actually there were lots of discoveries. Many of these pieces, some of them very beautiful, are simply never performed. It was a pleasure and a privilege to discover them.”
-Christian Benda, on recording the complete Rossini Overtures.
The enduring popularity of Rossini’s operas is a testament to their wit and inventiveness, every overture a superb portrait of each ensuing drama. There is none more popular than the farcical comedy of Il barbiere di Siviglia, but themes of flirtation and disguise can also be found in IlTurco in Italia, contrasting with the heroism and revenge of Armida and the cunning exploits of Le Comte Ory. This edition, of which this is the final instalment, has gained wide critical acclaim, with Volume 2 (8.570934) described as “an unalloyed winner” by ClassicsToday.com.
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Volumes 3 and 4 of this Rossini Overtures series are available on the following Blu-ray Audio disc.
Rossini wrote some of music’s most masterful and lovable operas. His gift for comic and tragic forms was matched by a relish for characterisation, qualities that are always evident in his overtures. Lagazza ladra (The Thieving Magpie) is perhaps the most famous, one of the world’s most popular concert openers. But in Otello he reveals his more complex turns of phrase and in Le siège de Corinthe the writing is dramatic and colourful. The overture for Elisabetta, Regina d’Inghilterra was used again a year later by Rossini for Il barbiere di Siviglia. This is the first of four discs of the complete Rossini Overtures.
lively freshness - WETA CD Pick of the Week
we discover colors and counterpoint in this music full of accents - ClassicsTodayFrance.com 10/10 rating
Rossini’s ceaseless wit and invention are best exemplified in his series of operas. His colourful orchestration and command of both comic and tragic elements can be savoured in this second of four volumes of the complete symphonic overtures. Guillaume Tell, with its overture in four movements, includes a scene for five solo cellos. La scala di seta (The Silken Ladder), one of his most popular pieces, opens with an overture of charm and élan. Volume 1 (8.570933) was described by MusicWeb International as “an admirable start to what looks like being a very desirable series”.
each track on this album typifies Rossini’s wit and charm and the Prague Sinfonia Orchestra delivers compelling performances of each - WQXR (New York) Album of the Week
Volume 3 of the complete Rossini symphonic overtures continues the pattern of placing rarities such as the lively student work, Grand’overtura ‘obbligata a contrabasso’, and Matilde of Shabran, set in medieval Spain, alongside perennial hits such as The Italian Girlin Algiers and La Cenerentola (Cinderella), said to have been written in just three weeks. ClassicsToday.com described Volume 2 (8.570934) of this series as “delightful…amazing…strongly recommended”.
Not perhaps since the Bachs, if even then, has there been a musical family more continuous or more far flung than the Bendas of Bohemia. František (Franz) Benda served with CPE Bach, and with comparable distinction, at the court of Frederick the Great; Jiří Antonín Benda’s symphonies were as popular in their day as Mozart’s and Haydn’s at the end of the 18th-century; and since then the line has been virtually unbroken. The foremost contemporary standard bearer is the cellist and conductor Christian Benda.
Domenico Barbaja (1777–1841) was the legendary impresario who dominated European operatic stages for thirty years. The ruthless mogul was at the very heart of the bel canto era in which beautiful singing, allied to flawless technique, was brought to perfection. This release celebrates his legacy in exploring how Barbaja influenced the way opera was written and performed, by commissioning a series of masterpieces from the greatest composers of the time, such as Rossini, Donizetti and Weber, and staging them in his magnificent opera houses, performed by the most glamorous singers of the age.
the musical mixture is an enjoyable one in and of itself; the enjoyment increases when the works are heard in the context of the story of Barbaja’s life and times - Infodad.com
Even the most prominent names in classical music grew from initial obscurity, with a combination of circumstances, opportunities and single-mindedness eventually releasing an artist's light from under the bushel. Somewhere in all their life stories, however, is usually a person responsible for significantly promoting that individual's genius, but whose contribution to the cause inevitably gets forgotten.
Closer to our time, history is kinder: to mention the name of manager George Martin in the same breath as The Beatles, for example, would raise few puzzled looks; Lang Lang and his dad are also a well-documented management casebook. Further back in time, memories get misty.
Today's blog gives a sneak preview of two discs that are just around the corner, due for release in November. It's the third of four articles in which our artists reveal the questions they would have put to the featured composers on their new discs, had they ever met. We first asked conductor Christian Benda for his poser to Rossini.
Benda's current project is to record the complete set of overtures to Rossini's operas; the first two volumes (Naxos 8.570933 and 8.570934) will be joined by Volume 3 next week. While luxuriating in Rossini's oceans of melodies concentrated in these curtain-up moments, Benda is more intrigued by the composer's curtain-down. His question:
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