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.