Nicolaus Esterhazy Sinfonia
Under the permanent directorship of Drahos, the sinfonia first worked as a recording orchestra for Naxos, but now also gives public performances.
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Classical - Released May 1, 2010 | Naxos
Classical - Released February 14, 2002 | Marco-Polo
In his 52 years, eighteenth century Italian composer Domenico Cimarosa left behind an astounding 65 operas and that was not through sheer industriousness but to meet demand; in terms of Italian opera, Cimarosa was the biggest fish in the pond -- even bigger than Mozart. Only one of his operas has gained a foothold in the repertory, Il matrimonio segreto; perhaps a half-dozen others have been recorded in some way or another. A good way to connect with an opera that you cannot otherwise hear is through listening to its overture, and Marco Polo's Domenico Cimarosa: Overtures I present 12 of them in freshly scrubbed editions prepared by Artaria Editions performed by the Hungarian Nicolaus Esterházy Sinfonia under the direction of Alessandro Amoretti. These are serviceable performances that represent the letter of Cimarosa's music without being in themselves particularly imaginative performances. Compared to Mozart's opera overtures, or to others of the same period, most of these works have charm and some lilt, but are pretty cut and dried. One would expect the overture to Cimarosa's "Cleopatra" to be faintly exotic in character, given the subject, her locale, and historical value. Rather it is just faster in tempo than most of the other overtures; with the equivalent of about eight measures of some typically "Turkish" features being the only exploration of Cleopatra beyond that. The opera overture in the eighteenth century was a changeling; Johann Christian Bach tended to add pre-fabricated overtures to his operas, rotating them when necessary, and Cimarosa himself is identified here as utilizing several different overtures for the same opera. As orchestral music, these overtures are good -- pleasant, vibrant, and infectiously rhythmic, but no one would confuse them with being great orchestral music on their own terms; nor are they lame -- just middle ground works that might appeal to fanciers of the Classical-era stage and fans of the eighteenth century symphony, but probably to few others. © TiVo
Symphonic Music - Released March 18, 1997 | Naxos
Here again we have Naxos entering heavily trafficked repertory with a little-known ensemble, and led by an equally obscure conductor, the first flutist in the Budapest Symphony Orchestra. Even in the budget realm, this combination would seem a risky, even foolhardy effort. But once more Naxos scores an upset, proving it has a nearly bottomless fund of untapped talent and resources. Actually, this is the fourth release in a cycle of the nine Beethoven symphonies, and if the previous three entries are on this level, I'd rank this set with my previous favorites, the Bernstein (DG), Harnoncourt (Teldec), and Jochum (Angel) sets. Simply put, there isn't a tempo in either of these two readings that doesn't sound absolutely right, a flourish that doesn't seem utterly natural, a quiet moment that doesn't mesmerize, a climax that doesn't seem the perfect culmination. When I listened to the finale of the Seventh (for many the greatest Beethoven symphony), I sat astounded, dazed, in seventh heaven (pun intended). I had to reach for Toscanini's NBC Symphony recording from Nov. 9, 1951, also a great performance, but in dated mono sound. The Italian maestro was compelling, to be sure, but did not surpass Drahos in this movement. In the Fourth, Drahos and his spirited players deliver an utterly effervescent performance, where detail emerges cleanly and orchestral balances seem perfect. This is one of the greatest Fourths ever committed to disc. The only quibble I have with this recording are the horn sonorities in the main theme of the first movement of the Seventh. They are rather too dominant for my tastes. But, I hasten to add that is a minor quibble that hardly detracts from the overall effectiveness of the performance. The sound Naxos provides is excellent, as are the notes by the indefatigable Keith Anderson. A critic with a major classical review journal has damned the first two issues in this cycle with faint praise. But if you are looking for a compelling disc of these Beethoven symphonies, you can acquire this recording with complete confidence. © TiVo
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