Rossini: William Tell


William Tell

Antonio Pappano

EMI (3 CDs)

We all know the overture to William Tell but how often do we hear the rest? Rossini wrote Guillaume Tell (its original title) for the Paris Opéra – a big-boned work that lacks the sentimental hits we associate with his comedies.

What comes across in this excellent French-language recording from Rome is its native Italian inspiration, its melodic variety and magnificent choral ensembles. Pappano’s brisk tempi and light textures give it a fast-moving, easy-to-digest feel, almost contradicting the work’s grand-operatic status.

The Orchestra and Chorus of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia respond as if they love the music – they bring it to the Proms on July 16 – and there are distinguished contributions from Gerald Finley in the title role and John Osborn as Arnold, the high-flying tenor. Only Malin Bystrom’s pallid Mathilde fails to impress.

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