courtesy of Naxos of America
Earlier this month Naxos released the eleventh and final volume in pianist Alessandro Marangoni’s project to record the compositions in the fourteen unpublished volumes of music that Gioachino Rossini composed between 1857 and his death in 1868, collected under the title Péchés de vieillesse (sins of old age). Readers may recall that, when the tenth volume was released, it was described as the penultimate in the series. On that occasion I wrote that I had been using iTunes to index all the tracks, meaning that I would be in a good position to determine just how complete the project was.
I am happy to report that all of the entries in each of the fourteen volumes are now present and accounted for, along with twenty additional selections classified as “unassigned.” Ironically, Amazon.com seems to have been negligent in accounting for the completion of the series, at least for those who have been collecting it on CDs. After a frustrated amount of searching, I have concluded that, aside from live streaming, the only relevant Amazon.com Web page is for MP3 download. Those wishing to complete the collection with the physical item are advised to consult its Web page on the NAXOS DIRECT Web site.
This is also the fourth volume released under the Chamber Music and Rarities rubric. With the exception of a few piano solos that serve as introductions, all the selections are vocal solos or duets. Vocal resources include two sopranos, Laura Giordano and Maria Candela Scalabrini, two mezzos Giuseppina Bridelli and Cecilia Molinari, one tenor, Alessandro Luciano, and two baritones, Bruno Taddia and Vittorio Prato. All of them perform with a confident precision of pitch, an overall lightness of expressive rhetoric, and, when appropriate, just the right amount of a sense of humor. The album concludes with the final “unassigned” selection, in which Taddia sings Rossini’s name to a seven-note melodic line with the piano providing only the final cadence.
Like its predecessors, the entire album makes for a thoroughly satisfying listening experience. Nevertheless, now that the collection is available in its entirety, I would suggest that it is not particularly appropriate for “binge listening.” Marangoni has calculated well in making each release a stand-alone “recital;” and that is how each album would best be treated.