Magazine article Gramophone

'Overtures, Preludes and Intermezzi'

Magazine article Gramophone

'Overtures, Preludes and Intermezzi'

Article excerpt

'Overtures, Preludes and Intermezzi'

Bellini Norma--Overture Boiti Mefistofele--Prelude to the Prologue Catalani La Wally--Act 3, Introduction Donizetti Ugo, conte di Parigi--Overture Giordano Siberia--Act 2, Prelude Leoncavallo I Medici--Act 1, Prelude; Act 3, Prelude. Pagliacci--Intermezzo Ponchielli La Gioconda--Dance of the Hours Puccini Edgar--Act 4, Prelude. Madama Butterfly--Intermezzo Rossini La pietra del paragone--Overture Verdi Un giorno di regno--Overture. I Lombardi--Act 3, Prelude to the Trio La Scala Philharmonic Orchestra / Riccardo Chailly Decca (F) 4831148DH (77' * DDD)

At first, this looks like a random collection of overtures, preludes and intermezzos gathered by Riccardo Chailly, mixing the familiar with the unfamiliar. However, they are all from operas which premiered in Milan--although not quite all at La Scala, as the Leoncavallo operas premiered down the road at the Teatro Dal Verme. Chailly 'sells' this music like nobody else today. I grew up with Herbert von Karajan's collection of intermezzo lollipops, swooning at the syrupy Berlin Philharmonic strings in Manon Lescaut and Notre Dame. Only the Pagliacci intermezzo from that collection appears on this disc, but Chailly's approach is leaner, with more of an eye for dramatic possibilities.

Chailly's scrupulous care over dynamics leaps out in the very first phrases of Verdi's overture to Un giorno di regno--here going under the title of Ilfinto Stanislao which, according to the conductor, was how it premiered at La Scala in 1840. It fairly zings along.

The playing of the Filarmonica delia Scala is electric, although the acoustic is a little tubby. Strings are light and nimble in Rossini and Donizetti, caressing the gentle Act 3 introduction to Catalani's La Wally with great tenderness. Bellini's Overture to Norma bristles with drama, while Rossini's for La pietra del paragone bubbles along infectiously. …

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