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Saimir Pirgu (tenor)
Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1848)
Il Duca D Alba: Angelo Casto E Bel [6:32]
L’elisir d’amore: Una furtiva lagrima (1832) [4:19]
Roberto Devereux: Ed ancor la tremenda porta [6:17]
Jules MASSENET (1842-1912)
Manon: Instant charmant...En fermant les yeux  [3:29]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Don Giovanni, Dalla sua pace K 527 (1787) [4:25]
Don Giovanni: Il mio tesoro intanto K 527 (1787) [4:16]
Così fan tutte; Un'aura amorosa (1790) [4:15]
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
Rigoletto: Questa o quella (1851) [1:56]

La Traviata: Lunge da lei" - "De' miei bollenti spiriti (1853) [3:46]
Giovanni Battista BONONCINI (1670-1747)
Per la gloria d´adorarvi [3:35]
Giovanni Battista PERGOLESI (1710-1736)
Tre Giorni Son Che Nina [3:49]
Saimir Pirgu (tenor)
Haydn Orchestra of Bozen and Trient/Gustav Kühn
rec. 2004?
UNIVERSAL 4763149 [46:45]

This is a calling card for the young Albanian tenor Saimir Pirgu. The notes are rather coy on the location and date of recording but I’ve made a stab at 2004 from a comment made by Pirgu in the booklet; the recording was made “a long time ago” when he was twenty-three which, given that he’s now only twenty-six, is doubtless an Albanian joke. Pirgu has won some prestigious awards – the Schipa and Caruso competitions - and has already worked with Claudio Abbado and at the Vienna State. The disc seems faithfully to reflect his current repertoire – Mozart, Donizetti, some Verdi, and aria antiche to leaven the mix. At only forty-six minutes he’s not over-stretched himself but has clearly confined the programme to arias with which he feels comfortable. 

His Pergolesi is a touch throaty, and he takes one or two audible gulps thus rather compromising the legato but the head voice is certainly well formed. I wondered whether he’d listened to Schipa before essaying Bononcini. His vibrato can be a touch intrusive though, and in Il mio tesoro he has a tendency to bark going high – and the runs are not quite there. But this is certainly an attractive voice, a lyric tenor of sweetness and ardour. Clearly directors have marked him down for Mozart but in Un'aura amorosa, whilst proving promising, he’s guilty of changing colour too insistently; perhaps we can blame his youth for the lack of relaxation in the voice. He’s simply trying too hard.  Una furtiva lagrima shows the fine quality of the voice again, though it also discloses a lack of natural rubato and a technical frailty; his soft singing is touching but the voice tends to lose body – this happens in the Massenet as well, though to a lesser extent. Fortunately there’s a touch of metal in the lyric voice in his Verdi, which gives it presence.

Big things seem to have been predicted for Pirgu and by now he may have refined his technique still further, adding stagecraft to deepen his interpretations. This is a transitional indicator, if I can put it that way, a voice at the beginning of a career.

Jonathan Woolf




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