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Cat. No. CHAN 10343(4) X Price: £21 No. of discs: 4
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CHAN 10343 - Verdi: Complete Preludes, Overtures and Ballet Music
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Available From: 10 October 2005
Verdi began his operatic career with Oberto, conte di San Bonifacio in 1839 and intended to end it after the premiere of Aida in Cairo in 1871, but he emerged from his retirement to produce the two Shakespearean masterpieces Otello (1887) and Falstaff (1893), the latter, Verdi’s only comedy apart from the early Un giorno di regno (1840), so dramatically efficient that it dispenses with purely orchestral episodes of any kind. Already his third opera, Nabucco (1842), proved a great success, the Overture alluding to the opera’s most famous number, the chorus of Hebrew slaves, ‘Va, pensiero’. In Macbeth (1847) the more fantastic workings of Verdi’s imagination are in evidence from the very first bars, the Prelude later interweaving phrases from Lady Macbeth’s sleepwalking scene. The Verdi scholar Julian Budden has rated the full-length Overture to La battaglia di Legnano (1849) ‘one of [Verdi’s] most original designs’.

The Overture to Luisa Miller (1849) represents a marked advance in Verdi’s orchestral style, its tensely dramatic, tautly monothematic structure and resourceful use of instruments testifying to a maturing musicianship. In the Prelude to La traviata (1853) Verdi created an exquisite piece of music that can be enjoyed on its own and yet has the very essence of the opera within it. For Les Vêpres siciliennes (1855) he wrote not only one of his longest overtures but also his most substantial ballet music, ‘Les Quatre Saisons’. When these CDs were new the rarely heard Prelude to the first version (1857) of Simon Boccanegra had never been recorded before – nor had the extended Overture which Verdi composed for the Italian premiere (1872) of Aida, but withdrew after rehearsal. The Prelude to Un ballo in maschera (1859) is one of Verdi’s most systematically ‘referential’, consisting almost entirely of motifs from the opera. The masterpiece, however, among all Verdi’s full-scale orchestral works is the Overture (1869) to La forza del destino, an expanded version of the original Prelude (1862), the scale and variety now matching those of the opera itself, with its episodes of home, village, monastery, battlefield and hermitage.
Reviews

This treasure-trove is a comprehensive survey of all the purely orchestral music from Verdi’s operas… Edward Downes who conducts with passion and power, shows himself once again to be one of his country’s leading Verdians.
The Times on CHAN 9787(4) (Verdi set)

Sir Edward Downes directs a world-class orchestra, and the results are all one could wish for.
Classic CD on CHAN 9510 (Verdi,Vol. 1)

…the Chandos engineers provide a glowingly resonant sound picture… it could hardly be better done.
Gramophone on CHAN 9594 (Verdi,Vol. 2)

 

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