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CD Review

Gioachino Rossini

Péchés de vieillesse, Volume 5

  • 7 Preludes
  • Bolero Tartare
Stefan Irmer, piano
Dabringhaus & Grimm MDG6181353-2 77m DDD
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This ongoing project of putting on disc, all of Rossini's piano pieces known as 'Sins of Old Age' is now in its fifth instalment. The present release is mainly dedicated to the 12 Preludes, of which seven can be heard in this recording, which also includes the Bolero Tartare'.

The pieces reflect not only Rossini's remarkable flexibility but also his audacity to criticise, musically, anything which in his view was progressive and decadent. Roguish yet virtuosic, they are wonderful creations, full of new ideas, harmonically extravagant, and with a cryptic language that was meant as an indictment of the crazy musical world in which Rossini worked.

The strange titles might give the listener a false conception, but they capture perfectly the very special design of each composition. The composer seems to be all out to make a mockery of the odd character pieces of his time with titles such as 'Harmless Prelude', 'Allegedly Dramatic Prelude' and suchlike.

The collaboration between MD&G and Stefan Irmer has already reaped a very rich harvest of outstanding reviews and this latest Rossini venture should consolidate further, not only the label's fame for varied and exciting repertoire but also the pianist's reputation not only standard works, but also of unknown and rarely performed piano pieces. An enchanting disc which should bring a smile to the face of all those who are prepared to indulge in a 'risata Rossiniana'.

Copyright © 2006, Gerald Fenech