La gazza ladra (The Thieving Magpie) marked a culmination of the convergence of serious and comic elements in Rossini’s work. The result is an ideal hybrid: a tragic opera with a happy ending that rises to the status of true opera seria. With its outstanding dramatic and musical qualities it remains one of Rossini’s greatest and most successful operas, a constant presence in the repertoire since its triumphant 1817 première in Milan. This performance is conducted by Alberto Zedda, who made his conducting début in 1956, produced the first critical edition of La gazza ladra, and is widely acknowledged as one of the world’s foremost authorities on the operas of Rossini.
The connection between Wales and the harp is a long-standing one, and Mathias's part in it began 12 years before his Harp Concerto was written, with Improvisations for harp solo; even a Welshman has to learn how to cope with such an idiosyncratic instrument. He learned his lessons well—even using semitone pedal glissandos in the second movement, and he keeps the harp audible by alternating its solo passages with orchestral ones or, when the two are working together treating the orchestra with a light touch (the celesta is used as a particularly effective companion to the harp), at other times resorting to the more familiar across-the-strings sweep. Two movements have declared Welsh associations: the first juxtaposes but does not develop three themes the second is a 'bardic' elegy; the last is simply ''joyful and rhythmic''. The whole makes pleasing listening appealing to the emotions and imagination rather than the intellect.