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Garsington Opera’s first recording venture is a great memento of last summer’s British staged premiere of Rossini’s sprawling beast, and a reminder of what an all-round performance that was. David Parry’s conducting is just brilliant; his judgment of pacing and the way he handles the expanded time of Rossini’s vastly long conversations sound almost more impressive here than they did at Wormsley. Because it is a live recording there is some stage noise, and the sound is nowhere as sharp as it would be in a studio, but the crisp, muscular orchestra comes across with clarity, the chorus is impressively robust, and it never becomes a soup of sound. The plusses far outweigh any quibbles, with the urgency and force of character and relationship only live performance can bring. Paul Nilon is the utterly committed, luckless Venetian commander Erisso, Siân Davies radiant as his daughter Anna, Darren Jeffery a bluff Maometto and Caitlin Hulcup after an uncertain start becomes in some ways the most interesting person – character developed through sheer bel canto technique.

Robert Thicknesse Read the full review on Agora Classica

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