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Album review: Rossini manages full operatic spectrum in works for solo instrument and piano

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rossiniFour principals from the Orchestra of the Teatro alla Scala in Milan have teamed up with duo pianists Marco Sollini and Salvatore Barbatabo in a whimsical album of rarities by opera composer Gioachino Rossini (1792-1868).

Rossini may have been writing for the salon and concert hall, but this collection of eight pieces is all opera, with the solo instrument taking the place of the human voice.

Released on the Italian Concerto label, this album is for people who like a bit of bel canto with their chamber music. The singers are La Scala concertmaster Francesco Manara, principal cello Massimo Polidori, principal clarinet Fabrizio Meloni and principal horn Danilo Stagni.

There is an edge to Manara’s sound as he rollicks his way through two pieces meant for the most virtuosic of violinists (I can’t help thinking how much easier Manara’s life would have been had he bowed in period style rather than in modern style).

The rest of the pieces are a huge treat, especially the Prelude, Theme and Variations for horn and piano and Une Larme (A Tear) a set of variations for cello and piano. Polidori’s bow control is extraordinary.

The album ends with two showoffy pieces for piano four hands expertly rendered by Sollini and Barbatello.

The audio quality in this studio recording is all over the place, depending on the combination of players, but the music is fun and they play well.

You can find out more about this album here.

Here is a taste of the Prelude, Theme and Variations, thanks to pianist Antonella Trisciuoglio and horn player Donato Inglese, followed by pianist Alessandro Tardino and cellist Michelangiolo Mafucci playing Une Larme:

John Terauds

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