After reissuing his highly acclaimed recording of Verdi's "Messe Solenelle", Chailly now turns his attention to some Rossini rarities that Philip Gossett describes as a "curio cabinet" in his colourful and authoritative notes. Evidently, most works are definitely pastiches and reworking of some sort but the heroic music in the blatantly bombastic hymns is worth a listen. This is not a major overture discovery as my high hopes were dashed in discovering that the "Robert Bruce" overture was simply a rehash of three other operatic melodies! I still rate Neville Marriner's outstanding set of the complete Rossini overtures as hors concurs in the catalogue but it is welcome to have Chailly's spirited and ever propulsive version of "Ermione", an often underrated work.
The ballet items from "William Tell" come to life with outstanding colour from the Milan orchestra and Chailly definitely supersedes Almeida's now dated traversal of these works in an analogue Philips disc. The real blockbusters here are definitely the final two pieces which are no holds barred perorations of great patriotic and intrinsically dramatic fervour all around, the latter Hymn to Napoleon the IIIrd particularly loud, or so I thought! It is a well filled disc anyway and the recordings have come to life with colour and charm although the chorus is sometimes quite backwardly placed. Still as Gossett says, this is a curio cabinet well worth discovering and keeping.
Copyright © 2002, Gerald Fenech