ROSSINI (THE BEST OF) (Naxos: 8.556683)
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English audiences will never forgive Rossini for starting his Thieving Magpie overture with that side-drum roll. We leap to our feet thinking its the start of the National Anthem! And it is this effervescent overture which opens this irresistible bargain.
Rossini still holds a position as one of the most popular opera composers, though in truth more of his operas have fallen into oblivion than have remained in the repertoire. Nowadays we really only know Thieving Magpie and William Tell by the overture, and even William Tell overture was made popular by the long running cowboy TV series, The Lone Ranger.
Rossini had already written ten operas before he was 21, and eventually composed 39 major stage works, though in his last thirty years he wrote nothing new. He did try to become a composer of serious operas, but it will always be his comic operas, The Barber of Seville and Cinderella that his fame will rest.
Naxos were the company to give the top recommended CD of The Barber, Gramophone writing that it \puts to shame just about every other version of the opera there has yet been", and it became an Editor's Choice.
Opera so dominated Rossini's life that the rest of his output is often ignored, but his compositional life had started out with instrumental music, the group of String Sonatas probably written as early as his twelfth year.