Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco was a Jewish-Italian composer who studied with Ildebrando Pizzetti and in turn taught Jerry Goldsmith and John Williams, among others. His marvelous Guitar Concerto No. 1, written for Segovia, is his best known work. Only one of these eleven overtures (issued on two separate Naxos releases) has been recorded before—a shame, since these are wonderful pieces, full of color, drama, and winsome melodies. Julius Caesar’s descending main theme owes a thematic debt to Stravinsky’s Petrushka; there’s also an exotic tinge to it and some demure string glissandos. The Tragedy of Coriolanus has some achingly beautiful melodies played by the reeds. Sometimes there’s a hint of English pastoralism in the writing, but the overtures are overall cosmopolitan in style. Much Ado about Nothing is romantic as they get, but never becomes maudlin.
Andrew Penny knows what should be grand, lean, or luxurious. The orchestra plays well except for some small intonation problems (the violin solo in The Merchant of Venice is noticeably off). Sonics are lively and full.