ROSSINI: Complete Overtures Vol. 1 [TrackList follows] – Prague Sinfonia Orch. & Philharmonic Choir/ Christian Benda – Naxos (audio-only Blu-ray)

by | Jun 7, 2013 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews

ROSSINI: Complete Overtures Vol. 1 [TrackList follows] – Prague Sinfonia Orch. & Philharmonic Choir/ Christian Benda – Naxos audio-only Blu-ray with choice of 96K/24 DTS-HD MA 5.1 or PCM Stereo NBD0028, 1:57:46 *****:

This is this month’s “Pure Audio” Blu-ray release from Naxos (they had originally planned two such releases a month). Some of the overtures have been available on a Naxos standard CD, but look at the running time of this disc—and it’s only Volume 1!

The recordings were made in Prague in 2011 and 2012, and the orchestra has won a number of prizes for its performances and recordings for many different labels. The Prague Sinfonia Orchestra was established to cover the larger symphonic repertory during the 16th tour of North America by the Prague Chamber Orchestra. Their conductor Christian Benda has recorded the complete overtures of both Schubert and Rossini, and has conducted the orchestra for such vocalists as Renee Fleming and Simon Estes.

Rossini had a gift for musical characterisation of the figures in his operas, and these qualities are found in his overtures. In general they all have more theatrical excitement and rich melodies than most overtures. This lengthy program of 15 of them opens with one of the best known, The Thieving Magpie. It’s been used frequently as a symphony concert opener. There is a sizable paragraph on each one of the overtures in the very complete note booklet.  The two longest ones are Semiramide and William Tell at over 11 and 12 minutes. These are sparkling performances of enjoyable works in a hi-res form that will appeal to all audiophiles, plus the unusual length. The choir joins the orchestra on a couple of them.

You don’t need to display the video screen in order to play the Blu-ray.  You can just hit the track advance button a couple of times and it will eventually start playing the first track. You also don’t need to display the screen in order to select between the DTS-HD 5.1 track and the PCM Stereo option—you can just use the colored buttons on your deck’s remote control and see what setting you have on your preamp or receiver display. With their ability to store five times more data than standard DVDs, the audio-only Blu-rays can offer lossless audio and as high as 96K/24-bit even on the surround tracks. (Naxos chose not to bother with 192K, I think wisely.)


1.  La gazza ladra: Overture 00:09:47
2. Semiramide: Overture 00:12:25
3. Elisabetta, regina d’Inghilterra, Act I: Sinfonia 00:07:27
4. Otello, ossia Il moro di Venezia, Act I: Sinfonia 00:08:32
5. Le siege de Corinthe: Overture 00:09:32
6. Sinfonia, “al Conventello” 00:04:01
7. Ermione, Act I: Sinfonia – Troia! qual fosti un di! 00:08:04
8. Guillaume Tell: Overture 00:11:34
9.  Eduardo e Cristina: Overture 00:09:14
10. L’inganno felice: Overture 00:06:01
11. La scala di seta: Overture 00:06:00
12. Demetrio e Polibio: Overture 00:06:31
13. Il Signor Bruschino: Sinfonia 00:04:48
14. Sinfonia in D major, “Bologna” 00:05:2
15. Sigismondo: Overture 00:08:28

—John Sunier

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