> The Power of Love [DA]: Classical CD Reviews- Oct 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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The Night Winds: Lurline (Wallace) (1860)
Placida Notte: Il Talismano (Balfe) (1870)
'Tis the Harp: Maritana (Wallace) (1845)
'Twas in that Garden: The Siege of Rochelle (Balfe) (1835)
Nella Dolce Trepidanza: Il Talismano (Balfe) (1870)
Lord of our Chosen Race: Ivanhoe (Sullivan) (1891)
'Neath My Lattice: The Rose of Persia (Sullivan) (1898)
Scenes that are Brightest: Maritana (Wallace) (1845)
Little Princess: Amassis (Faraday)
The Convent Cell: The Rose of Castille (Balfe) (1848)
There's a Power: Satanella (Balfe) (1858)
The Rapture Dwelling: The Maid of Antois (Balfe) (1836)
Yon Moon o'er the Mountain: The Maid of Antois (Balfe) (1836)
Oh! Could I but his Heart enslave: Satanella (Balfe) (1858)
Bliss For Ever Past: The Puritan's Daughter: (Balfe) (1861)
The Naiad's Spell: Lurline (Wallace) (1860)
These Withered Flowers: Love's Triumph (Wallace) (1862)
My Long Hair is Braided: The Amber Witch (Wallace) (1861)
Deborah Riedel (soprano), Australian Opera & Ballet Orchestra/Bonynge
Rec. St Scholastica Chapel, Sidney in August 1999
MELBA 301082 [69.49]
from D1 Music Direct, 7 High Street, Cheadle, Cheshire. SK8 1AX



This CD, from Australia, gives a glimpse of what London opera audiences enjoyed in the earlier part of Queen Victoria’s reign. At that time the dominant opera composers were from the continent – Weber, Meyerbeer, Gounod, Rossini, Verdi etc – and it fell principally to two Irishmen to keep up the British end.

Operas by Michael Balfe (1808-70) and William Vincent Wallace (1812-65) [do not confuse him with the Scottish composer William Wallace whose splendid "Creation" Symphony and tone poems are recorded – or with "Braveheart"!] were frequently performed in Britain and internationally and remained in the regular repertory until the 1930s. This excellent collection of romantic arias from many of their operas is most appealing. Deborah Riedel sings beautifully with the right balance for the style of song and is sensitively accompanied by Richard Bonynge and orchestra.

This listener found Wallace’s Maritana and Lurline much to his taste. The aria “Scenes that are brightest” from the former is dramatic and tuneful. Lurline uses the Rusalka story, but with a happy ending, before Dvořák got to it. Balfe’s Satanella (alternative name is “The Power of Love”, hence the CD title) also stands out but the whole compilation of songs, ballads really, is very attractive even though the subject makes for little variety and indeed one feels that some passages are a bit similar to others – déja entendu to coin a phrase! A surprising omission is Balfe’s "The Bohemian Girl", perhaps because that is said to be his best known work.

The CD also has arias from works written around the end of that century by Arthur Sullivan and Michael Faraday [do not confuse with the discoverer of electromagnetic induction]. The latter’s Amasis is a musical comedy premiered in 1906.

The CD case has a nice picture of the celebrated Maria Malibran who performed best when primed with a glass of Porter. The sleeve booklet is well written, profusely illustrated and full of interesting background to the composers and the musical scene at that period. Inter alia we learn that in the course of a varied career Vincent Wallace was nearly eaten by cannibals. Balfe started out as a singer and finished as a farmer.

David Arundale

This review appears here courtesy of the British Music Society

See also reviews by Raymond Walker and Philip Scowcroft

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