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Gioachino Rossini's complete 'William Tell Overture' played by Pete Lashley on guitar

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Published on Oct 7, 2010

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This version of Rossini's 'William Tell Overture' is from Pete Lashley's 2010 album 'It All Comes Round'. The album is now available on ITUNES.
It was recorded at Stonegate Studios in Bentham, North Yorkshire by Sam Parkinson (www.samesevennotes.co.uk).

Four movements make up Rossini's 'William Tell Overture'. Pete Lashley plays them all on acoustic guitars,sometimes double-tracked and more occasionally triple tracked. It begins with the 'Prelude' - a slow passage originally written by Rossini for the cello. Pete detunes his guitar for the first few notes to try and capture the deeper mood created in the original composition. It's interesting to note that William Tell was a revolutionary against 14th Century Austrian oppression in states of the Swiss confederacy. This deep mood of the prelude, representing dawn over the forbidding mountains, could be seen to represent both a pastoral beauty and the oppressed atmosphere in which the Swiss were forced to live under Austrian dictatorship.

The second movement is the 'Storm'. Up to four layers of acoustic guitars are used in this section by Lashley, all of which are playing their own distinct roles to capture the drama. The gentle bird call heard as the storm abates is sublime. Lashley plucks high pitch notes to emulate Rossini's original flute.

The third movement, Ranz des Vaches (call to the dairy cows), originally featuring the English horn and flute, signifies daybreak. Pete softly picks the guitar to emulate the English horn melody and the higher fluttering flute parts that come in later on in the movement.

The fourth movement and the most well known is the 'Gallop' which Rossini heralded by trumpets and wrote for full orchestra. This segment is often used in popular media to denote galloping horses and became the lone ranger theme music. Lashley uses acoustic guitars again to pick out the melody and high paced rhythm. Pete brings in the cowbell and tambourine to sustain the momentum as the music gallops towards its rousing conclusion.

Perhaps the political connotations of the William Tell overture are hardly surprising given that Rossini was born in Pesaro on the Adriatic coast of Italy in 1792 at a time when revolution was breaking out in nearby France. This revolutionary feeling, a questioning of the old order across Europe, was to at least temporarily rock France and parts of Europe to its core. Rossini's father was sympathetic to the French Revolution and welcomed Napoleon Bonaparte's troops when they arrived in northern Italy. When Austria restored the old regime in 1796, Rossini's father was sent to prison and his mother took him to Bologna where she made a living as a leading singer at various theatres of the Romagna region.
During Rossini's Paris years between 1824 and 1829 he created Guillaume Tell (William Tell). The production in 1829 brought his career as a writer of opera to a close. By this time he had already composed thirty-eight operas. Rossini died in 1868.

The overture is one of the most famous and frequently recorded works in the classical repertoire although the opera itself is rarely heard uncut today as the original score runs for more than four hours!

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