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Carlos Cogul Introduction
Gioacchino ROSSINI (1792–1868)
Il barbiere di Siviglia:
1. Largo al factotum [5:39]
Giuseppe VERDI (1813–1901)
Un ballo in maschera:
2. Alzati! … Eri tu … O dolcezze perdute [6:18]
Vincenzo BELLINI (1801–1835)
I puritani:
3. Ah! Per sempre io ti perdei [3:54]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756–1791)
Don Giovanni:
4. Finch’ hand al vino [1:36]
Ruggiero LEONCAVALLO (1858–1919)
I Pagliacci:
5. Si può … Un nido di memorie … E voi … (Prologue) [5:44]
Giuseppe VERDI
Don Carlo:
6. O Carlo ascolta … Io morrò (Rodrigo’s death) [3:56]
7. Zazà, piccolo zingara [2:24]
Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797–1848)
La favorita:
8. Ma, de’ malvagi invan … Vien Leonora … De nemici tuoi [5:28]
Giuseppe VERDI
Il trovatore:
9. Tutto è deserto … Il balen del suo sorriso [4:32]
10. Vanne, la tua meta già vedo … Credo [4:59]
11. Cortigiani, vil razza dannata [4:52]
Bonus tracks:
Lucio DALLA (b. 1943)
12. Caruso [5:26]
Franz SCHUBERT (1797–1828)
13. Ave Maria [4:28]
Rolf LØVLAND (b. 1955)
14. You Raise Me Up [4:05]
Special UK Edition Bonus Track:
Jacques REVAUX (b. 1940)/Claude FRANÇOIS (1939–1978)
15. My Way [4:14]
Carlos Cogul (baritone)
Compagnia d’Opera Italiana Orchestra/Antonello Gotta (all tracks except tr. 4); Orchestra of the Plovdiv National Opera/Nayden Todorov
no recording dates and venues. Published 2005.
CHIRON RECORDS EAN CODE 5 030820 043869 [68:00]

Carlos Cogul was born in Reus in Spain, where he made his debut as solo singer at the age of eight. He studied with baritone Pablo Vidal and at Academia Marshall in Barcelona. The last ten years he has been living in London, where he has sung in opera as well as concert and recital.

As so many baritones, live or on records, he makes his entrance during the orchestral introduction to the aria, starting in this case almost in his dressing-room but then advancing quickly, landing almost on your lap, while the orchestra remain at a safe distance. “Compagnia d’opera Italiana” was an unknown quantity to me but a Google search gave 11,800 hits and they do have a home page but it was unavailable, so pace, dear readers, I can give no information apart from the fact that they are reportedly quite busy recording opera. The orchestra seems well rehearsed but the impression is a bit anonymous. Señor Cogul in barber outfit seems to have a lively stage presence and this Figaro takes many liberties vis-à-vis Rossini’s intentions, very often slowing down to be able to cajole the text and the music. The whole is a bit free-wheeling but in the midst of it there is a Buster Keaton face – he doesn’t seem to smile. The voice is on the dry side and not free from strain. Up on high his tone is tenoral but the high notes don’t come without effort and often seem unsupported and unsure. He is undoubtedly a serious artist and he knows what he wants to express but too often his vocal means is an impediment to reach his goal. He phrases Eri tu with much insight into Renato’s (or Anckarström’s in the ‘original’ version) character but he seems too weak, both vocally and dramatically, to fulfil his intentions. Generally speaking the temperature in a recital like this should be near the boiling point but Señor Cogul’s is only simmering.

The Puritani aria – I once heard it marvellously sung at Covent Garden by the young Dmitri Hvorostovsky – is inward and smooth but the voice production is uneven. The champagne aria from Don Giovanni – or Don Juan as he is in Spanish – is quite bumpy and rhythmically unsteady. This libertine is more plebeian than nobleman. Poor Tonio in Pagliacci may be hunchbacked but in this reading he is also geriatric. What is Tonio saying? For sure he says: Scusatemi se da sol mi presento … (Excuse me if I appear alone …), but later on he says things like “[the author] wrote with real tears …”, “you’ll see the melancholy fruits of hatred. Pangs of grief, angry shouting …”, “we are men of flesh and blood…”. Carlos Cogul understands all this but he seems more embarrassed than eager. Un nido di memorie is certainly beautifully sung but so lacking in temperament.

I applaud his inclusion of a couple of not so frequently heard arias: the Puritani already mentioned, the beautiful Zazà aria and the one from La Favorita, neatly sung but in the cabaletta of the latter he is out of sorts. He adopts a darker tone for the recitative of the Trovatore aria and the aria proper is sung inwardly as it should but so seldom is, but this is music that requires a great voice. Carlos Cogul for all his good intentions isn’t on that level. It becomes even more evident in the concluding two arias, two of the pinnacles of the baritone repertoire: Iago’s Credo and Rigoletto’s Cortigiani. Again he knows what he wants but his resources let him down. The Credo can be sung without histrionics – listen to Gabriel Bacquier on the Solti recording – but here it is only small-scale. Likewise his Rigoletto is vulnerable but I don’t pity him. This is a role he has sung on stage and possibly he would make more impact when seen as well as heard.

The bonus tracks save the day. Here, in ‘lighter’ music, he changes voices and his pop voice is actually very attractive with beautiful timbre and even his top notes are freer and ‘sit’ more comfortably. Caruso feels over-long, however, and becomes monotonous while the soupy arrangement of Schubert’s Ave Maria with a crooning soloist and even a chorus spreading treacle in the background made me get a half-pint of bitter to rinse the system. But You Raise Me Up, that Irish sounding song, written by a Norwegian, offered quite the best singing on the whole disc: steady, confident and beautiful. The “Special UK Edition Bonus Track” – how do they manage? – My Way is also excellently sung, but here he is up against Frank Sinatra or, for the French original; Comme d’habitude, Mireille Mathieu. These two final tracks are, however, what I will be returning to.

These may be harsh words about a debut recording but I must report what I feel. As a final verdict I want to repeat my general impression: Carlos Cogul knows what he wants to do with these arias but he lacks the vocal means to fulfil his intentions.

Göran Forsling 




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