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Memories of Love - songs with piano accompaniment
Pietro MASCAGNI (1863-1945) ‘Pena d'amore’; ‘M’ama... non m'ama’; ‘Rosa’; ‘Alla luna’; ‘La tua stella’; ‘Serenata’
Giuseppe MARTUCCI (1856-1909) La canzone dei ricordi: 1. ‘No... svaniti non sono i sogni’; 2. ‘Cantava il ruscello la gaia canzone’; 3. ‘Fior di ginestra’; 4. ‘Su 'l mar la navicella’; 5. ‘Un vago mormorio mi giunge’; 6. ‘Al folto bosco, placida ombria’; 7. ‘No, svaniti non sono i sogno’
Ottorino RESPIGHI (1879-1936) ‘Nebbie’; ‘O falce di luna’; ‘Nevicata’; ‘Notte’

Ildebrando PIZZETTI (1880-1968) 3 Sonetti del Petrarca, (In morte di Madonna Laura): ‘Quel rosignuol che si soave piagne’; ‘La vita fugge e non s'arresta un'ora’; ‘Levommi il mio pensier in parte ov'era quella ch'io cerco’
José María Guerrero (tenor)
Richard Pearce piano
Recorded 8th –10th October 2003 at Snape Maltings Concert Hall, Suffolk, England
WARNER CLASSICS 2564 61295-2 [63.39]

The main interest in this disc is with the songs rather than the young tenor. The earliest songs are by Mascagni (trs. 1-6) whose success with Cavalleria Rusticana (1890) has clouded knowledge of his non-operatic work. All the songs here, with the exception of Rosa (tr. 3), date from the period before his great operatic success. The booklet claims (p. 5) that these songs were amongst the last written in Italy in which charm, melody and simplicity are the most notable elements. Whilst one may agree or not with that view, it is a pity that nobody seems to have spelt out how these virtues might have been accentuated by the singer using gentility of phrase and some honeyed ‘mezza voce’ tone. As it is, far too often, strength of voice and lack of variety of vocal colour mar these interpretations.

The Martucci songs were influenced by the German tradition, as were those of Respighi. In the former, Guerrero makes some effort to sing softly (tr. 7) but that serves mainly to highlight both the nasality of his voice and some distinct raw patches in the tone. Born in Pamplona into a family of flamenco singers, Guerrero started singing in local festivals before pursuing serious vocal study in Barcelona and then at Trinity College of Music, London. Since that time his studies have continued in Italy. He has given performances in Salzburg and the Canary Islands where he was a finalist in the Alfredo Krauss competition. What Krauss and Guerrero share is good diction. However, the newcomer at present lacks the vocal stylishness and musicality of his late compatriot particularly in evenness of vocal emission and legato. He also needs further work on the smoothness of transition through the passaggio.

The recording places the voice rather forward in a clear acoustic. This forward placing together with the edge to the singer’s tone produces strident results. The booklet gives biographical details of the artists and a brief but informative note on the compositions. Both are given in English, French and German. The words of the songs are given in full with the same translations.

We hear many discs of 19th century German lieder. This disc provides an all too rare opportunity to hear songs from Italy, albeit those by Martucci and his pupil Respighi are influenced by the German tradition. As such this CD will be of interest to lovers of the genre.

Robert J Farr

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