Rossini: Overtures (CD)

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The eight overtures by Gioacchino Rossini recorded on this CD were written between 1810 and 1814, and as such cover the early operatic period of the composer, who was born in Pesaro in 1792. Despite his world-wide popularity, primarily thanks to his popular operas, Rossini never managed to rise above the ranking of a musically aesthetic, yet rather second-rate composer, especially in German-speaking countries (in complete contrast to countries such as England and, of course, Italy). Rossini had his German antipode, Beethoven, to thank for this ranking. Both are considered outstanding examples of strongly contrasting "music cultures", which by the way have lost little of their validity right up to the present day. Thus Beethoven represents the symphonic style, exploring the smallest details of every theme and motif, whereas Rossini is considered the exponent of a style which, though decorative, is lacking in content and simply aiming for effect. Take for instance the division between light and serious music, which still exists today in Germany, derived from this very problem. Carl Dahlhaus expressed this contrast in musical aesthetics in the following words: Beethoven‘s scores were portrayals of "sacrosanct musical 'texts', the meaning of which should be disclosed through the interpretations, which should be seen as 'explanations'. On the other hand, a Rossini score is merely a model for a performance, which is given form by the aestheticians in charge as the realization of a design, and not as the interpretation of a text."

Disregarding these reflections on musical aesthetics, Rossini was without a doubt the most important operatic composer in the period between Mozart and Verdi. One sees with amazement just how confident the young composer was in his mastery of the sophisticated tone languages of his time. Rossini managed to find his own musical voice at a very early stage. This "voice" is demonstrated superbly in his operatic overtures.

Apart from one exception – La cambiale di matrimonio is really more an exponent of the older tradition of the sinfonia – the overtures all have a specific structure typical of Rossini: a slow introduction is followed by a quick main subject with two themes, which is brought to a halt by a ritardando, before a new intonation leads to a coda which outshines all else. But just how does Rossini fill this almost mechanical and pedantic structure he has chosen with musical energy? He links a lively melody to rhythmic vitality and bounces simple harmonic patterns off sudden humorous and surprising modulations.

The motivic material, which is generally simple, is not subjected to symphonic development. Instead, by simply ordering the individual elements, Rossini creates a more extensive construction of areas of relaxation and tension, which achieve a spacious effect. In this context, the crescendi should be interpreted in the spirit intended by the composer: their typically characteristic features include simple metrical models, rousing melodies, sequential passages and the alternation of dynamics and instrumentation with radiant intensifications. Not without justification was Rossini fêted as "Monsieur Crescendo" upon his arrival in Paris. His instrumentation contains especially individual traits: in the first place, the solo entry of the winds, which can be discerned most strikingly in the horn soli in La cambiale di matrimonio. Besides, some of Rossini‘s very best ideas can be found in his overtures: such as the perpetuum mobile in La scala di seta or the violin bows striking the music stands in the overture to Il Signor Bruschini.

The overtures do not contain much – if any – similarity to the ensuing operatic plots, as far as theme or programme content are concerned. This explains why Rossini made multiple use of some pieces, such as the overture to Il barbiere di Siviglia, which he had originally written for Aureliano in Palmira, or the introduction to Tancredi, which he borrowed from his La pietra del paragone, without making a single change.

Tytuł: Rossini: Overtures
Wykonawca: Academy of St. Martin In Fields
Kompozytor: Rossini Gioacchino
Dyrygent: Marriner Neville Sir
Dystrybutor: Music Island
Data premiery: 2002-09-26
Rok nagrania: 2004
Nośnik: CD
Liczba nośników 1
Indeks: 67660377
 
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