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MusicWeb International, July 2012

The seven Sinfonias on CD 1 are not the piano reductions of actual opera overtures they may at first glance seem to be, but they could certainly have been employed as such. Dating probably from the mid- or late-1810s, they all have the typical slow introduction—often with some ‘ta-dah!’ chords for effect—followed by a lively development and dénouement. There is some terrifically exciting piano playing here from Elisabetta Dessì. The four Waltzes that follow are more fairly described as salon pieces, but despite their brevity Donizetti still manages to coax a few good tunes out of them…

The second CD contains a selection of Donizetti’s works for four hands. The Sonatas are thought to date from around the same time or slightly later than the Sinfonias. These too are clearly for domestic use, the second pair of hands more likely taking some of the workload rather than doubling it—which is not to detract from the attractiveness of the music or indeed the teamwork in this recording between Franco Calabretto and Eddi de Nadai, the latter better known these days as an opera conductor. The Sonatas too are littered with operatic devices that give the pieces a sense of drama, at least as experienced in bel canto.

On the evidence of these discs, Donizetti was a pianist with an intelligent understanding of idiom, imbuing his works with a sense of spaciousness, approachability and variety. When coupled with his irrepressible ability to conjure catchy melodies out of thin air, and the occasional something different—the uncheery Marcia Lugubre, the quirky, ironically-titled Solita Suonata (‘Usual Sonata’) and the full-blown, three-movement Classical Sonata in D that opens the second disc—the result is a double CD of great geniality that should appeal to music-lovers of all persuasions.

Sound quality is good, especially taking account of the age of these recordings. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review

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3:52:12 PM, 4 May 2015
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