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Mozart versus Salieri: Rivalry?
Prague Sinfonia Orchestra/ Christian Benda

Vol. 2 - Vol. 1


Michael Tumelty - Herald Scotland

The brilliant Naxos series of complete Rossini Overtures is increasingly acclaimed and seems now unstoppable in its march towards being not only the finest collection of Rossini overtures available, but actually indispensible to those who love this exhilarating music. Purists, intellectual elitists and snobs sometimes deride Rossini as the composer who couldn't write counterpoint (or was too lazy to do so) and who had about two good musical ideas (crescendo and accumulation) out of which he made a career. I find Rossini's Overtures a life force in their vivacity and breathtaking sense of elan, wonderfully captured and projected on this latest volume by Christian Benda and his crisp, articulate Prague Sinfonia Orchestra. More favourites are here, including The Italian Girl In Algiers, Cinderella and Tancredi, with some lesser known items and a fascinating student work, Grand'Overtura, where you can hear the seed elements of Rossini's later music at work. Absolutely sparkling.

Rated 10/10 - Christophe Huss - Classics Today France

...Getting rid of the Karajan style “wall of strings”, we discover colors and counterpoint in this music full of accents. Without bragging nor brutality, Benda plays this rustic and refreshing game. In an overall just a little tangy sound, in order not to evoke any purring comfort, Benda gives a nice boost to the overtures and their discography. We do not have here a CD featuring a “best of”program since this is volume 1 of a future complete set, but everything (see the transition to the coda in Otello) is approached with the same seriousness in articulation and clarity. At the end of the course, if it continues at this level, Benda will be better and steal a march on his only rival, Neville Marriner on Philips. Thus another success for Naxos.

David Hurwitz - Classics Today UK

Up to now, the standard collection of Rossini overtures has been Neville Marriner’s correct but somewhat flat-footed series on Philips. This new project promises to improve on that set considerably. Christian Benda’s Prague Sinfonia has all of the discipline of Marriner’s ensemble, but with an extra sprightliness and vivacity—bright piccolo and wind sonorities plus crisp percussion—that the earlier set doesn’t match. There’s more sheer fun in the music making on this new release, a quality that’s fully in evidence and properly exploited, even in Rossini’s most serious music… I look forward eagerly to the rest of this cycle. It sounds like it may well become the series of choice.

Michael Tumelty - Herald Scottland

This is effervescent music that, in the right hands, retains its full sparkle and splendour. And here is a cracking, taut and exhilarating new set from the terrifically lean and energetic Prague Sinfonia, directed with full Rossinian dynamism and momentum by Christian Benda.


Jerry Dubins - Fanfare

...Benda and the Prague Sinfonia Orchestra’s performances are an absolute delight, featuring playing that’s bright as a button and droll as those Rossini caricatures one commonly sees plastered on program posters and album covers. This first volume affords both a strong start and a strong promise for the most comprehensive and important survey of Rossini’s overtures since Marriner’s 1970s effort.That’s a definite recommendation.


John Sheppard - Music Web International

The Prague Sinfonia Orchestra and Christian Benda have already recorded the complete Overtures of Schubert for Naxos on two well filled and utterly delightful discs… It was an obvious step to move next to the complete Overtures of Rossini which so obviously inspired Schubert. I am happy to say that this disc has many of the same very successful features of its predecessors. From Toscanini to Giulini or Gui, and from Marriner to Norrington there is a very wide range of recoreded performances available and Benda stands up well in this very distinguished company. There is real theatrical vitality in each of these performances, as well as grace and wit in phrasing... This is an admirable start to what looks like being a very desirable series.