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Overtures & Ballet Music 1

4.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Audio CD, April 8, 2008
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Editorial Reviews

A fascinating and vividly performed survey of the neglected master works from Mozart's great rival for Vienna's opera stage. While demonized as Mozart's "assassin," Antonio Salieri was a gifted composer in his own right; a colorful and imaginative orchestrator; and the man who taught Beethoven, Schubert, Hummel, and Liszt.
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Digital Booklet: Salieri: Overtures and Ballets, Vol. 1 - Armida / Daliso E Delmita / Pafio E Mirra Ossia I Prigionieri Di Cipro / Der Rauchfangkehrer
Digital Booklet: Salieri: Overtures and Ballets, Vol. 1 - Armida / Daliso E Delmita / Pafio E Mirra Ossia I Prigionieri Di Cipro / Der Rauchfangkehrer
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Product Details

  • Orchestra: Mannheimer Mozartorchester
  • Conductor: Thomas Fey
  • Composer: Antonio Salieri
  • Audio CD (April 8, 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Haenssler Classics
  • ASIN: B0014QNHBI
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #258,663 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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By Eric Cook on May 20, 2008
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Antonio Salieri hasn't had it this good in nearly 200 years. Baumert, Bartoli, and now Thomas Fey and his orchestra are helping to bring this witty, forward thinking, and delightful composer out from under the myth of madness and murder. Here overtures and dances from Salieri's operas are played with élan, wit and clarity.

The Mannheimer Mozartorchester performs these scores with deftness, wonderful coloration (esp. in the use of period brass with modern strings and woodwinds), and great precision. About a third of the material is recorded here for the first time, and other pieces receive fresh up tempo interpretations, but with the exception of the Baumert symphony CD, which is just as good, I don't think any other recordings of Salieri's instrument works have been this well done or this informed by intelligent historical understanding of the scores and/or clear artistic direction. One can quibble with a tempo here or there, but not much else. Salieri's music sparkles and beguiles and we can understand why his operas gained fame for forty years throughout Europe.

Among the gems there is the overture to Les Horaces looking backward to Gluck and forward to Beethoven. Also two very charming overtures, one comic, Der Rachfangkehrer, and one pastoral, Daliso e Delmita both exude warmth and good cheer. The moody and very modern overture to Catalina and the selections from Armida, Pafio, and Les Danaides, completes this broad sample of Salieri's oeuvre. As a composer Salieri strove for a theatrical broadness of gesture, bold and original use of the orchestra, and dramatic movement.
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Format: Audio CD
This CD represents a joint project between Thomas Fey and "music consultant" Timo Herrmann, who provided both the critical editions and, apparently, the impetus behind the recording. Fey has proved his Classical-era bona fides in a critically acclaimed Haydn symphony series for Hanssler (up to Volume 12 by now, I think). The same merits and possible demerits mark his Salieri interpretations. The performances are high on tension and drama, maybe a bit short on breathing room, but to some extent that's a function of the music, which is economical of gesture and kind of one-dimensional emotionally. The expansive, emotionally varied palette of a Beethoven or Cherubini overture is beyond the ken of Salieri. And while the deft little overture to the comedy Der Rauchfangkehrer shows that Salieri could unwind and smile a bit, he apparently didn't do so very often.

On the other hand, the music on this CD shows a definite growth in musicianship, from the mostly uninteresting Sinfonia Armida (1771), which demonstrates Salieri's debt to his mentor Gluck, to the much more engaging Les Horaces Overture of 1786. Equally appealing is the suite from Les Danaides (1784), one of Salieri's greatest successes. More varied in expression than the overtures, the music is by turns tragic, stately, and buoyant. However, the later Catilina Overture is storm and stress over not much, in my opinion.

So the best of this music is accomplished and attractive yet without the spark of genius that elevates the best music of Salieri's contemporaries. As I've suggested, Fey and his excellent band play up the sometimes overheated drama, making the music sound as important as they can without being able to make it seem essential, which is not their fault but Salieri's.

Typical of Hanssler's work with Fey's Mozart Orchestra of Mannheim, the sound is appealingly bright and clean, upfront yet with a realistic sense of ambience.
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