Brilliant's breezy survey of Rossini's one-act operas is assembled from five different recordings originally released on the Claves label in the early '90s. All were well received in their original form, and since all five were conducted by the veteran Marcello Viotti in similar-enough-for-non-audiophile acoustics, they make a convincing box set, and an attractive buy for those looking for a lighthearted Rossini infusion. The packaging is minimal, and the included libretti are in Italian only, so if you're counting on a translation you'll have to find it somewhere else. Viotti's work is exemplary and idiomatic throughout, always putting Rossini's most tuneful and lighthearted foot forward, while never forgetting that every good comedy has real moments of pathos. The overtures all seem a bit under tempo, and could use an extra shot of fun, but they are still upbeat enough to elicit a smile. The casts are uniformly excellent, mostly populated with journeyman Rossinians with fresh, if not always head turning, voices and good character. But each opera has at least one higher profile name, whose charisma adds just enough spice to the mix to elevate the entire collection above the competition: Ramón Vargas, Maria Bayo, and the accomplished buffo Bruno Pratico are exceptionally good.(Allen Schrott)
In the fourth decade of a jazz career in which he has always made a subtle art sound easy, US saxophonist still caresses old standards with the same urbane ecstasy he always has. In its hip-hop or contemporary-classical borrowings, free-improv extremes or north European minimalist whisperings, jazz is now a very different music to the sleek, swinging one Hamilton absorbed from his dad’s records as a boy. But nobody can accuse Hamilton of living in the past: it would be like telling someone they shouldn’t still be in love with a fascinating old partner.