OVERTURES, PRELUDES & INTERMEZZI
Works by Bellini, Boito, Catalani, Donizetti, Giordano, Leoncavallo, Ponchielli, Puccini, Rossini & Verdi Filarmonica della Scala/riccardo Chailly
Decca 483 1148 76:35 mins
Riccardo Chailly’s collection with the orchestra of La Scala, where the Italian conductor is now music director, consists of orchestral extracts from Italian operas. They range from Rossini’s overture to La pietra del paragone (1812 – recycled for Tancredi
the following year) to the intermezzo from Puccini’s Madam Butterfly
(1904); all 13 of the operas received their premieres at the theatre with the exception of Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci and I Medici, which were first performed at the Teatro Dal Verme, also in Milan.
The result makes for an attractive programme, and certainly shows off the high quality of the Filarmonica della Scala, as the orchestra is known when in concert-giving mode. The brightness of the strings is offset by the warmth of the horns – shown at their most impressive in the Prelude to Act I of I Medici. There’s an expertly played violin obbligato in the Prelude to Act IV of Verdi’s I Lombardi (Francesco De Angelis does the honours), and a neatness of attack as well as a general brilliance of tone that serve the music well and are in turn finely conveyed through the recording’s clarity.
Chailly does particularly well by Catalani’s La Wally Act III Introduction and Donizetti’s Ugo
overture, though Ponchielli’s Dance of the Hours could do with more rhythmic verve and the Butterfly Intermezzo with more fluidity and emotional surge. George Hall