This is the first in a series of reviews from me regarding the return of Lodia records and the musical legacy of one Carlos Païta. I must confess not having heard of him before I saw him in the Albany Music catalogue, so I did some research. Born in Argentina, he has conducted all over Europe – including Russia – but has only visited the United States on two or three occasions. Originally a Decca artist, he created his own label and worked with a variety of English and European ensembles to put down his thoughts on some of the bigger fish in the symphonic canon. He rarely worked on disc with soloists, his interpretations were fiery and highly personal, and prized by hardcore collectors. They have also only been sporadically available in this country, last mentioned in 2008. But now Albany Music is distributing his titles in small batches, month by month. The results are great fun.
The Rossini overture set here would seem an ideal introduction to his work, and so it proves. Païta clearly had a strong artistic temperament, but he stays true to the music, and serves it very well. There are personal touches, to be sure, but nothing perverse or wacky. Rather, the maestro inspires his forces to play with tremendous gusto and conviction. The six overtures here are simply brimming with character and excitement. Païta whips the normally reserved Royal Philharmonic into a frenzy at the climaxes, and everyone simply sounds like they are having a good time. They must have been well drilled, too, because there is nothing sloppy even at high speeds. Special mention goes to the first-desk players, who demonstrate a real flair and virtuosity.
The sound is OK. There are moments where I feel like balances are skewed, or that the brass in particular sounds muffled. Still, as an introduction to Carlos Païta, this is as good as it gets. Since these were once only obtainable at obscene prices on Amazon, it's great to see a major distributor bring them back to general circulation. Go ahead, give it a try!
Copyright © 2014, Brian Wigman