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This is volume five of Naxos’s complete survey of Rossini’s piano music, a collection nearly at journey’s end. This release consists of 24 short pieces, with the longest coming in at just under six minutes and many lasting not more than a minute. Finding a listenable volume setting is initially tricky – the overall sound is too loud (in terms of the amplifier’s ‘normal’ setting) and needs taming, otherwise the piano is rendered as over-bright and aggressive in too reverberant an acoustic. Even so, the sound of the piano is rather dry and lean, though this is not inappropriate.

One can imagine that Rossini composed with a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye as he fashioned trifle after trifle as part of his Péchés de vieillesse (‘Sins of Old Age’), a product of his final ten years. The music is varied and unfailingly entertaining; some numbers are gentle, some are boisterous, some raise a smile and some touch the heart. All are far from easy for the pianist, for each example has a particular mood and manner for the performer to penetrate and sometimes there is a roulade of notes for the fingers to negotiate.

Alessandro Marangoni is a sympathetic and stylish purveyor of Rossini’s very agreeable and imaginative doodles. Occasionally one hears an idea that Respighi used for his marvellous ballet score La Boutique fantasque. Overall, this is a very enjoyable confection, the music engaging and charming, always inventive.

COLIN ANDERSON Read the full review on Agora Classica


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