The booklet claims Andrew Shore as being acknowledged
as Britain's premier buffo baritone and an outstanding singer/actor.
1 can personally vouch for the latter claim, as 1 have had the pleasure
of seeing him in many roles, including some of those on this disc, and
have been very impressed by his histrionic abilities and, particularly,
his exemplary diction. However, I will put my minds eye and ear aside
in assessing this disc, which is derived from several of Chandos' ‘Opera
in English Series’ recordings, so generously made possible by the financial
support of the Peter Moores Foundation, and in which Andrew Shore appears.
The disc starts with four tracks from the 1999 recording
of The Elixir of Love Track 1, Dulcamara's opening cavatina,
"Attention! Attention!" immediately shows Shore in very good
voice with good cover of the tone, wide variety of colour, excellent
characterisation, and, above all, that exemplary diction that 1 have
admired in the theatre. He moves between the notes with ease and flexibility
showing no sign of strain or loss of focus as the tessitura rises. He
is joined in track 2 by Barry Banks as a Nemorino whose smallish lyric
tenor is less appealing on disc than was his interpretation on stage,
whilst the Adina of Mary Plazas (tr3) is sparky and well tuned. But
this disc is about Shore, and he is shown at his best in the Act 2 finale
(tr4), which seems all too short in this extract. The following excerpt
from the 1994 recording of Rossini's Barber gives a first glimpse
of his 'patter' technique, which we can enjoy to the full in the famous
duet from Don Pasquale (tr10) where Shore is joined by the well
focused tone of Jason Howard.
One of the most impressive aspects of Shore's art illustrated
on this disc, particularly in the Rossini and Donizetti extracts, is
his ability to avoid sameness in his interpretations, not always easy
in this fach. Any downside? I didn't find Shore's Catalogue Aria
Italianate enough, albeit it is sung in English; his play with the words
is not up to his usual standard. Also, 1 stand by my criticism of his
Falstaff made when the complete opera was issued. Shore's voice
is not juicy enough, and 1 also dislike his near singing through his
tone in the Honour Monologue (tr11) featured here.
The extracts have a welcome uniformity of recording
quality which is up to the usual Chandos high standard, being warm,
atmospheric with the voices well forward in a clear acoustic, and with
the orchestra given its due part. The booklet has all the English words
and also introductions to the extracts in French and German as well.
This very welcome mid-price issue can serve as a deserved
tribute to a very fine English singer actor who has given much pleasure
on disc and in the theatre, and who has we hope much more to give.
Robert J Farr