New CD of the Week | The Italian Intermezzo: Music Without Words

The Italian Intermezzo is made of mood-painting interludes found in the great Italian operatic repertoire of the nineteenth and early twentieth century, usually connecting acts in the opera.  The music is powerfully atmospheric, designed to create the right emotional setting for the ensuing action of the opera.  The exception on The Italian Intermezzo is Ponchielli’s famous ballet, Dance of the Hours from La Gioconda, which like most ballets found in operas, gives a break from the drama of the opera and provides the audience a chance to enjoy an entertaining ballet while, in this case, listening to that scintillating ballet immortalized in Walt Disney’s film Fantasia.

The rest of The Italian Intermezzo ranges from the very well known and haunting Act III Prelude from La Traviata, to the sparkling items from Wolf-Ferrari’s Jewels of the Madonna and I Quattro Rusteghi, as well as the richly-romantic intermezzos from the great Verismo composers: Leoncavallo, Puccini, Giordano and Cilea.  The rare items by Catalani are no less enjoyable.

Italian maestro Gianandrea Noseda is in his element in this, his native repertoire found on The Italian Intermezzo. Noseda has made many noted recordings with his BBC Philharmonic orchestra for Chandos, praised for their brilliance of sound as well as their musical excellence. Noseda’s superb musicianship in both the operatic and orchestral repertoire combine on this release to produce one of his very finest recordings.  A refreshingly unique collection.