Cimarosa: Overtures (CD review)

Alessandro Amoretti, Nicholaus Esterhazy Sinfonia. Naxos 8.570508.

This collection of Cimarosa overtures, recorded in 2000, was first released on the full-price Marco Polo label in 2002, and then the company made it available on their low-cost Naxos label. I suppose if you wait long enough, all things come to pass.

The Italian composer Domenico Cimarosa (1749-1801) was among the most prolific and popular composers of the late eighteenth century, probably as popular as Haydn and more popular than Mozart. Life is sometimes unfair, but time has a way of making up for things. Mozart may have died penniless, but today it's obviously his music, not Cimarosa's, that most people prefer. And for good reason. Meanwhile, with the possible exception of his opera Il matrimonio segeteo, Cimarosa is relegated to the ranks of relative obscurity for many listeners.

Anyway, as an introduction to the kind of stuff Cimarosa was turning out, the Naxos collection contains twelve of the man's overtures. Frankly, I couldn't tell you which was which. I mean, you have to remember that these pieces were not meant to stand on their own and be played in succession. Cimarosa wrote them as curtain raisers. That isn't to say the music isn't often engaging and even delightful, only that there isn't a lot of variety to it.

Included on the disc are overtures from the operas Voldomireo; La baronessa Stramba; Le stravaganze del conte; his most long-lasting, the aforementioned Il matrimonio segreto ("The Secret Marriage"); and eight others. Conductor Alessandro Amoretti and the Nicolaus Esterhazy Sinfonia perform them with great vigor, the ensemble itself created especially by the Naxos organization to further their recordings of late eighteenth and early nineteenth-century music.

The sound is clean and wide, with moderate depth. It is a pleasant, easy-listening sound of a kind that might be heard from a reasonably close distance in a medium-sized concert hall. It also has good body and vigorous dynamics. The collection might have been overpriced on the Marco Polo label, but it is certainly a strong consideration on this budget-conscious Naxos reissue. I just wish there was more variety to the music.

Adapted from a review the author originally published in the $ensible Sound magazine.

JJP

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John J. Puccio

John J. Puccio

About the Author

Understand, I'm just an everyday guy reacting to something I love. And I've been doing it for a very long time, my appreciation for classical music starting with the musical excerpts on The Big John and Sparkie radio show in the early Fifties and the purchase of my first recording, The 101 Strings Play the Classics, around 1956. In the late Sixties I began teaching high school English and Film Studies as well as becoming interested in hi-fi, my audio ambitions graduating me from a pair of AR-3 speakers to the Fulton J's recommended by The Stereophile's J. Gordon Holt. In the early Seventies, I began writing for a number of audio magazines, including Audio Excellence, Audio Forum, The Boston Audio Society Speaker, The American Record Guide, and from 1976 until 2008, The $ensible Sound, for which I served as Classical Music Editor.

Today, I'm retired from teaching and use a pair of bi-amped VMPS RM40s loudspeakers for my listening. In addition to writing the Classical Candor blog, I served as the Movie Review Editor for the Web site Movie Metropolis (formerly DVDTown) from 1997-2013. Music and movies. Life couldn't be better.

Mission Statement

It is the goal of Classical Candor to promote the enjoyment of classical music. Other forms of music come and go--minuets, waltzes, ragtime, blues, jazz, bebop, country-western, rock-'n'-roll, heavy metal, rap, and the rest--but classical music has been around for hundreds of years and will continue to be around for hundreds more. It's no accident that every major city in the world has one or more symphony orchestras.

When I was young, I heard it said that only intellectuals could appreciate classical music, that it required dedicated concentration to appreciate. Nonsense. I'm no intellectual, and I've always loved classical music. Anyone who's ever seen and enjoyed Disney's Fantasia or a Looney Tunes cartoon playing Rossini's William Tell Overture or Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 can attest to the power and joy of classical music, and that's just about everybody.

So, if Classical Candor can expand one's awareness of classical music and bring more joy to one's life, more power to it. It's done its job.

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa