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Angela Gheorghiu - Live from La Scala
Jean-Paul MARTINI (1741-1816)
Plaisir d’amour [4:26]
Alessandro SCARLATTI (1660-1725)
O cessate di piagarmi (1683) [2:52]
Alessandro PARISOTTI (1815-1913)
Se tu m’ami [3:30]
Christoph Willibald GLUCK (1714-1787)
O del mio dolce ardor (1770) [3:52]
Vincenzo BELLINI (1801-1835)
Malinconia, ninfa gentile (1829) [1:29]
Vanne o rosa fortunata (1829) [2:24]
Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1848)
Me voglio fa’na casa [2:33]
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
Stornello (1869) [1:48]
In solitaria stanza (1839) [4:32]
Brindisi II (1845) [2:23]
Charles GOUNOD (1818-1893)
Serenade (1857) [3:53]
Georges BIZET (1838-1875)
Chant d’amour (1872) [3:33]
Jules MASSENET (1842-1912)
Elegie [2:33]
Alfred ALESSANDRESCU (1893-1959)
Cind perdeaua dragii mele [2:23]
Diamandi GHECIU (1892-1980)
Si daca [3:06]
Tiberiu BREDICEANU (1877-1968)
Floricica de pe apa (1917) [1:43]
Bade, pentru ochii tai (1923) [3:03]
Vai, badita, dragi ne-avem (1905) and
Dragu-mi-l, mandro, de tine (1920) [3:32]
Gherase DENDRINO (1901-1973)
Te iubesc! (1954) [3:46]
Francesco Paolo TOSTI (1846-1916)
A vucchella [2:33]
Alan Jay LERNER (1918-1986) / Frederick LOEWE (1901-1988)
I could have danced all night (1956) [2:18]
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924)
O mio babbino caro (1918) [3:12]
Angela Gheorghiu (soprano)
Jeff Cohen (piano)
rec. 3 April 2006, La Scala opera house, Milan, Italy
EMI CLASSICS 3944202 [63:33] 
Experience Classicsonline

Recorded live at La Scala before a large and appreciative audience – they clap after every song which I find infuriating on disc – this is a rather strange piano-accompanied recital. The evening began with aria antiche, none of which remotely suits Gheorgiu’s mezzo-like depth of tone. Her matronish vibrato intrudes in the Martini and it’s especially in the middle of the voice where stylistic problems apply. Her Parisotti, known more in its long-time attribution to Pergolesi, is funereal, too heavy, rather flabby in the lower register and with a stifled verismo sob that I happen to find unattractive.  Similarly she is inflexible and stentorian in the Gluck. It all makes for a worrying start to the rest of the recital.
Fortunately things do improve. Bellini’s Vanne o rosa fortunate is sung with vivid urgency – maybe, just a little too much. And her Verdi impresses. Stornello finds her lightening the voice weight, adducing subtle inflexions, smilingly winning in impersonation and incisively and convincingly dramatic – a complete theatrical impersonation in fact. One past Jeff Cohen’s cardiac inducing opening chords she proves equally idiomatic in Brindisi II – and by this time I wished that she’d dispensed with the four aria antiche and had had the courage to pitch straight in. Treating the aria antiche in this way is what string players do when they begin a recital with a Sonata de Chiesa or some Handel or Leclair. It introduces bogus historicism and is supposed to allow the musician to play or sing their way in. Actually, as here, it’s wrongheaded if you evince little affinity for the music.
By now though Gheorghiu is on track with a small French selection – Gounod, Bizet and Massenet. Her Gounod has filigree coloratura. It’s certainly good to hear Massenet’s Elegie without the violin entwining around the singer – perhaps Cohen could have restrained himself at the end; he’s all too keen to make his presence felt. The Rumanian songs are a pleasure. Brediceanu was a writer of warm folkloric material; Bade, pentru ochii tai moves at medium tempo and sits very well for her voice.  Vai, badita, dragi ne-avem was written much earlier, in 1905, and has an earthy cimbalon twang and some luscious rubati. In Dendrino’s Te iubesc! we get some thrillingly high notes and some rapturous applause. After a little banter we get Tosti and an unexpected I could have danced all night along with the final, rather more expected O mio babbino caro. These end the recital well.
This is over an hour’s recital – a surfeit of applause, a little coughing, a rather tempestuous pianist and a disappointing opening section. Once in full flow however it offers enriching fare.
Jonathan Woolf

see also review by Michael Cookson



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