Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Pardubice
Patrick Gallois
Naxos 8.574046 (79:43)

Born near Naples in 1749, Domenico Cimarosa was thought in his day the equal of Mozart and Haydn with 80 or so operas to his name, serious as well as comic.

It is the latter that survive and on this long-playing budget release – the sixth in a series begun in 2007 and all still available – there are a dozen lively and melodic overtures, including that to his most successful work Il matrimonio segreto ('The Secret Marriage').

Among the other overtures are those to Penelope, 'The Imprudent but Lucky Man', 'The Thracian Lovers', 'Achilles at the Siege of Troy', 'The Broken Engagement', 'Appearances are Deceptive', and 'The Music Director'. This last is arranged by Simone Perugini, who also wrote the comprehensive booklet notes.

The orchestra, established in 1969 and regularly used by Naxos, is said to rank amongst the world's leading representatives of Czech musical culture. It is conducted on this occasion by the French-born Patrick Gallois, currently the Artistic Director and principal conductor of Sinfonia Finlandia, and himself a critically acclaimed flautist.

The composer's celebrated career had a sad ending. While serving as maestro di cappella to the king in Naples, he was imprisoned because of his involvement in the Neapolitan uprising of 1799. He subsequently sought to atone by writing his Cantata per Ferdinando IV (track 4). On his release two years later, he set out for St Petersburg but died in Venice on the way. There was talk of a poisoning but this was never proved.

Readers who have enjoyed Auber's overtures should also appreciate this album that brings some musical sunshine to dreary days.

Cimarosa wrote church music as well as for the stage, and nearly half the population may think that a requiem would have been more appropriate for this first review since leaving the EU!

Peter Burt 2020

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