Aureole etc.




Golden Age singers

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Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


The Art of Pilar Lorengar
CD 1
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924)

La Bohème: Sì, mi chiamano Mimì (1), La rondine: Chi il bel sogno di Doretta (1), Madama Butterfly: Un bel dì (1), Tu, tu, piccolo Iddio (2), Turandot: Tu che di gel sei cinta (1), Gianni Schicchi: O mio babbino caro (1), Suor Angelica: Senza mamma (2), Tosca: Vissi d’arte (2)
Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904)

Rusalka: Mĕsíčku na nebi hlubokém (2)
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)

Le nozze di Figaro: E Susanna non vien! … Dove sono I bei momenti (3), Die Zauberflöte: Ach, ich fühl’s (4), Così fan tutte: Come scoglio (5)
Gustav CHARPENTIER (1860-1956)

Louise: Depuis le jour (1)
Georges BIZET (1838-1875)

Carmen: C’est des contrebandiers … Je dis que rien (1)
Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949)

Arabella: Er ist der Richtige nicht für mich … Aber der Richtige (3)
Richard WAGNER (1813-1883)

Tannhäuser: Dich, teure Halle (3)
Erich Wolfgang KORNGOLD (1897-1957)

Die tote Stadt: Glück, das mir verlieb (3)

CD 2
Enrique GRANADOS (1867-1916)

Goyescas: La maja y el ruiseñor (6), 9 Tonadillas (7), 3 Majas dolorosas (7), 6 canciones amatorias (7)
Manuel de FALLA (1876-1946)

La vida breve: Vivan los que rien, Alli está, riyendo (6)
Joaquin TURINA (1882-1949)

Canto a Sevilla: Semana Santa, Las fuentecitas, El fantasma, La Giralda (8)
Pilar Lorengar (soprano), with Arleen Auger (soprano, R. Strauss), The Ambrosian Singers (De Falla), Alicia de Larrocha (piano) (7), Orchestra dell’Accademia di Santa Cecilia, Roma (1), London Philharmonic Orchestra (2, 5, 6), Wiener Opernorchester (3), Wiener Philharmoniker (4), Orchestre de la Suisse Romande (8)/Giuseppe Patané (1), Jesús López-Cobos (2, 6, 8), Walter Weller (3), Sir Georg Solti (4, 5)
Recorded July 1966, Accademia di Santa Cecilia, Roma (1), September/October 1969, Sofiensaal, Vienna (4), December 1971, Sofiensaal, Vienna (3), July 1973, Kingsway Hall, London (5), December 1978, Kingsway Hall, London (2, 6), July 1977, Rosslyn Hill Unitarian Chapel, London (7), March 1983, Victoria Hall, Geneva (8)
DECCA 473 317-2 [2 CDs: 77:00+77:23]



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If I wished to choose just two arias that show how attractive a singer Pilar Lorengar could be, they would be "Depuis le jour" and the luscious aria from "Die tote Stadt". Her voice is free and easy on the high notes which, while not of enormous volume, expand richly. For much of the time her middle register seems not quite in focus, with a "white" sound to the timbre. But in these two pieces (which start in what should be her weak zone) her timbre produces the right edge, the voice spins and her middle range is as rich as the rest.

Possibly this has something to do with the fact that both pieces are in a slow tempo. Lorengar’s persistent vibrato seems, in this case, well adapted to the pace of the music. If you turn to the "Carmen" aria, she sounds lovely where the music is expansive but where it moves forward more urgently she loses her quality; it is as if she is compelled to pass on to the next note before the note she is singing has found its true centre. This is what comes when vibrato is a habit rather than an expressive device, to be dosed according to the music in hand.

That said, she is successful in Mozart, her vibrato intruding on the fine lines less than one might have feared. The "Zauberflöte" and "Cosi fan tutte" arias have the inestimable advantage of coming from complete recordings of the operas under the vigilant eye of Georg Solti; there is a stronger sense of interpretation and involvement than in most of the rest (the other conductors tend to be neutral when not actually unhelpful – Patané clearly just doesn’t know how the "Rusalka" piece is supposed to go). And here’s the rub; with a voice a shade small for dramatic roles and no especial individuality as an interpreter, for most of the time I find her either over-parted, as in Wagner or some of the heavier Puccini pieces, or under-interpreting.

It would be nice to say that the second disc, which sees her on home ground, tells a different tale. Alas, in spite of a superb contribution from Alicia de Larrocha (anybody preparing to accompany these songs must hear this disc) and the right intentions, the all-intrusive vibrato wreaks havoc with the music. You need go no further than "El majo olvidado" from the Granados "Tonadillas" to hear how her evident passion is nullified by the lack of a firmly drawn line, something which her opera-battered voice could no longer provide after some 25 years of career. Time and again my spirits arose as the piano introduction to a new piece began, only to be dashed when the voice entered. The grander items with orchestra probably suffer less than the more intimate Granados songs, but here I must point out that the failure to provide texts and translations for relatively rare music is pretty poor. I found texts and some translations of the Granados on the Internet, but I couldn’t find the Turina. All we get is an appreciation of Lorengar by Alan Blyth; he and I seem to be talking about two different singers.

I am sorry to write harshly of an artist who certainly gave a lot of pleasure during her career. The microphone can be fairly merciless with vibrato and I realise that not everybody reacts the same way. All the same, with only four real successes spread across two discs I can hardly recommend this except as a cautionary tale to young singers who use a wide vibrato.

Christopher Howell



Gerard Hoffnung CDs

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Sheva
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