During the 1950s, 60s and 70s, Decca recorded a number of albums of overtures with some of its key conductors. Many of these were singled out by the press for their terrific sound quality (the fabled ‘Decca Sound’) and for their often adventurous programming. Some of them also included entr’actes and intermezzi. Prized as collectors’ items, many of the original LPs exchange hands at high prices. And most of these reissues, in Decca Eloquence’s ‘Romantic Overtures’ series, appear in CD, in part or whole, for the first time.
Romantic Overtures – Volume 5 is a collection of Overtures and Intermezzi from grand Italian opera. Thugs drowning blind women, a mountain lass buried in an avalanche, a cup of poison for two… this is the stuff of this highly entertaining CD conducted by Gianandrea Gavazzeni who conducted several recordings of Italian opera for Decca. Mascagni is represented by his little known operas ‘Le maschere’ and ‘Guglielmo Ratcliff’; the operas ‘La Wally’ and ‘Norma’ not by their single ‘big’ arias but by Preludes. And to round off the original – and extremely rare – 1956 LP (entitled ‘Great Moments from Italian Opera’), we have the Prelude and ‘Dance of the Hours’ from ‘La Gioconda’.
Le maschere: Overture
Guglielmo Ratcliff: Intermezzo (Il sogno)
ALFREDO CATALANI: La Wally: Prelude to Act IV
GIOACHINO ROSSINI: Il Signor Bruschino: Overture
GUISEPPE VERDI: Luisa Miller: Overture
VINCENZO BELLINI: Norma: Overture
GAETANO DONIZETTI: Linda di Chamounix: Overture
AMILCARE PONCHIELLI: La Gioconda: Preludio & Dance of the Hours
Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino
Recording Producer: James Walker
Balance Engineer: Roy Wallace
Recording Locations: Teatro Pergola, Florence, Italy, 1–3, 15, 16 September 1956 (1-7), June– July 1957 (8-9)