Classical Music Reviews

By Dave Regneri

Rossini Heroines (London 436075)
Cecilia Bartoli

This year marks the 200th Anniversary of Gioacchino Rossini's birth. During this century, no one singer has done more to advance the popularity of Rossini's music than Marilyn Horne. As Horne winds down her career, her heir apparent has become Cecilia Bartoli. She has a rich, warm, full voice that is perfectly suited for the demanding range that Rossini requires. This is her third disc of Rossini for London records. Her first two, Rossini Arias and Rossini Songs, are also well worth having.

Spring – Classics For All Seasons (Telarc 80321)

Spring has arrived with bright flowers popping out, and sunny days when we can shed our winter coats. There is a freshness and purity in the air, along with pollen. This recording, the first in a series covering all of the seasons, contains musical selections that are sprightly and upbeat. Most of the works performed are from the Baroque and Classical period (Haydn, Vivaldi, Mozart, Beethoven, etc.) but there are contemporary pieces by Prokofiev and Orff. The performances and recordings are excellent and the price is in the mid-range, which makes this a great buy, for some light listening.

The Four Seasons (BIS 275)

I have often been asked which recording of this piece of music I like best. Well, there are currently 88 different CDs or tapes that have the "Four Seasons" on them and I have probably only heard about 12 or 15 of them. Of the recordings that I have heard, my favorite is this recording from BIS, a Swedish company that consistently supplies the classical world with excellent recordings. This recording is performed by the Drottingholm Baroque Ensemble with Nils-Erik Sparf as soloist. The group uses original instruments, but don't let that scare you. Though only 11 people are playing, they have a rich, full sound, which is often lacking in larger ensembles. The sound quality is excellent, as one would expect from BIS.