The Italian Intermezzo – BBC Philharmonic, Gianandrea Noseda
The intermezzi recorded on this CD are, in the main, orchestral mood-painting interludes found in the great Italian operatic repertoire of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, usually connecting acts in the opera. The music is powerfully atmospheric, designed not only to create the right mood for the ensuing action of the opera, but also to provide some respite from the drama itself. The exception is the famous ballet ‘Dance of the Hours’ from Ponchielli’s La Gioconda, which, like most ballets found in operas, gives the audience a break from the drama, providing it with a chance to enjoy an entertaining ballet whilst, in this case, listening to some of the catchiest music in the repertoire. Indeed, this scintillating ballet was immortalised in Walt Disney’s film Fantasia and has long been an orchestral classic.
The other items on this CD range from the very well-known and haunting Prelude to Act III of La traviata to the sparkling movements from Wolf-Ferrari’s I gioielli della Madonna and I quattro rusteghi. Richly romantic intermezzi from the great verismo composers Leoncavallo, Puccini, Giordano, and Cilea are also here, and the rarely heard works by Catalani are no less enjoyable.
The Italian maestro Gianandrea Noseda is in his element in this, his native repertoire. He has made many noted recordings with the BBC Philharmonic for Chandos, praised for their brilliance of sound as well as their musical excellence. His superb musicianship in both the operatic and orchestral repertoire makes this release one of his finest.