> Susan B Anthony Portrait 74321868942 [CC]: Classical Reviews- January 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Ernest CHAUSSON (1855-1899) Le Roi Arthus – Ah, … Trahie! Abandonnée.
Gian Carlo MENOTTI (b 1911) The Consul – To this we’ve come. The Old Maid and the Thief – What a curse for a woman is a timid man.
Richard WAGNER
(18139-83) Lohengrin – Einsam in trüben Tagen. Tannhäuser – Allmächt’ge Jungfrau.
(1864-1949) Ariadne auf Naxos – Es gibt ein Reich. Elektra – Ich kann nicht sitzen. Die Frau ohne Schatten – Wehe, mein Mann!. Salome – Ah! Du wolltest mich nicht deinen Mund küssen lassen, Jochanaan.
Susan B. Anthony (soprano); Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra Bratislava/Ivan Anguélov
Recorded in the Slovak Radio Concert Hall, Bratislava on May 14th-18th, 2001 [DDD]
ARTE NOVA Voices 74321 86894-2 [66.46] Superbudget


Obviously programmed to show Susan Anthony’s voice in the very best light, here is a recital that reveals a talented young singer who promises much. She has graced the stages of many major international opera houses, and there is much on this disc to indicate why.

The Chausson and the Menotti excerpts provide the main interest. The eleven-minute excerpt from Le Roi Arthus is very beautiful, the interpreters pointing up the Wagnerian influence (particularly the Wagnerian fanfares around the ten-minute mark). Commendably, Anthony and Anguélov resist the temptation to languish in the prevailing Romanticism and the performance is all the more successful because of this.

The easy lyricism of Menotti’s The Old Maid and the Thief comes naturally to this singer. Both of the Menotti excerpts serve as a reminder that, as far as this composer is concerned, there is plenty of work to be done in exploring his music and this is most definitely a step in the right direction. Leinsdorf’s performance of Menotti’s The Death of the Bishop of Brindisi on RCA Victor Living Stereo 09026 63747-2 review is a logical next step for the curious.

Interesting repertoire aside, the twin peaks of Wagner and Richard Strauss are where Anthony will stand or fall. Her account of Einsam in trüben Tagen from Lohengrin is convincing, even if an edge to the voice acts as a periodic distraction. Her first entry in Allmächt’ge Jungfrau from Tannhäuser is very impressive, and the excerpt is clearly included in this collection to show off her control of legato.

If anything, the four Strauss excerpts provide even greater challenges. In general, Anthony meets them: only a weak lower register interrupts the flow at times. The extended final excerpt from Salome (just over a quarter of an hour) gives her more of a chance to flex her muscles. Perhaps she lacks the manic, chilling qualities this music demands, though. The orchestra can sound business-like at times, a fault that this combination of the Slovak RSO and Anguélov have been guilty of elsewhere in the Arte Nova Voices series. Astrid Varnay in a complete 1953 assumption of the role of Salome with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra under Hermann Weigert on Orfeo d’Or C503002I, issued in 2000, provides the real thing.

Documentation is, as usual in this series, a weak point. There are biographies of both singer and conductor, but nothing whatsoever on the music: a particular shame for the lesser-known excerpts.

Colin Clarke

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