<< -- 2 -- Robert Hugill TRICKY WORK
On this recording they have gone a step further in attempting to recapture the original
texture by using two late nineteenth century Pleyel pianos and a period harmonium. This latter
can sound a little underpowered and generally I think the balance rather favours the choir;
this may of course be due partly to the sheer number of the choral forces
[listen -- track 4, 0:00-0:37].
If you heard the soloists performing this in concert, you would find them perfectly
satisfactory and as a group, in the various ensemble numbers, they blend beautifully
[listen -- track 5, 0:33-1:46]. But on a recording, particularly
one which has gone to some trouble to source period accompaniment, you need singers who can
respond to the chamber music scale of the music. They must be able to sing the lines with a
focused intensity, entirely different from the operatic style of the day. Unfortunately,
this does not happen here. The benchmark for all comparisons of this work is
Wolfgang Sawallisch's 1972 recording. With a team of singers that included Brigitte Fassbaender
and Dietrich Fischer-Diesksau, that recording produced a performance of rare intensity. The
soloists on the current disc sing in a pleasant, but generalised manner with a little too much
vibrato. None of them really sings with an adequate sense of line. Pleasant enough to listen to,
they do not really do adequate justice to Rossini's work
[listen -- track 12, 0:05-1:18].
This recording will be liked by those people who admire fine choral singing, but I am
afraid that it is not my library choice for a recording of this tricky work, though it does
certainly have the advantage of being on one generous disc.