Cherubini: Symphony In D Major, Etc / Piero Bellugi, Et Al

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CHERUBINI Symphony in D. Overtures: Médée; Faniska; Lodoïska Piero Bellugi, cond; Sanremo SO NAXOS 8.557908 (56:07)


The orchestra of San Remo, a small town just east of Monaco, is one of Italy’s finest: brilliant, if not subtle; and displaying a varied palette. This performance of Cherubini’s only symphony is big and potent. In a work we normally hear as a last remnant of the Classical era, Bellugi points ahead toward the Romantic. Although one misses the tightly disciplined readings of Toscanini, Cantelli, and—best of all—Donato Renzetti (currently on Arts Music 47102, see Fanfare 20:2), the grand style and delicious colors of this performance make it a strong competitor. Naxos’s recorded sound is fresh and up close; strings are spread widely across the soundstage, woodwind solos are spotlighted, and a highly reverberant ambience clouds the tutti at or above f . Nevertheless, it is hard not to love this recording, which frees Cherubini from his dry-as-dust reputation, making him sound much like the free-spirited Arriaga.


Bellugi’s romantic style suits the opera overtures equally well. Although labeled a comedy because it has a happy ending, the fiery Lodoïska is no less dramatic than the more famous Médée . All three of these operas were produced in Vienna from 1802 to 1806, and they had great influence on Fidelio. Lodoïska and Faniska are both “rescue operas,” the latter sharing its librettist with Beethoven’s masterpiece. Along with the C-Minor Requiem, these were the works that made Beethoven (in a moment of false modesty?) name Cherubini the greatest living composer. In two tightly packed pages, Keith Anderson’s program notes explore corners of Cherubini’s life which I had not previously encountered. He led a charmed life in dangerous times, obtaining and losing the favors of reigning powers from royalty to Napoleon, slipping away to the countryside when the politics got rough.


All in all, a winning disc.


FANFARE: James H. North


Product Description:


  • Catalog Number: 8557908


  • UPC: 747313290826


  • Label: Naxos


  • Composer: Luigi Cherubini


  • Conductor: Piero Bellugi


  • Orchestra/Ensemble: San Remo Symphony Orchestra