RECORDING OF THE MONTH
Antonio SALIERI (1750 – 1825)
1. Tremo, bell’idol mio [4:14]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756 – 1791)
Le nozze di Figaro
2. Giunse alfin il momento ... Deh vieni, non tardar [4:25]
3. Voi avete un cor fedele K217 (for Galuppi’s Le nozze di Dorina) [6:30]
Domenico CIMAROSA (1749 – 1901)
Il matrimonio segreto
4. Sinfonia [6:01]
5. Perdonate, signor mio [6:09]
Joseph HAYDN (1732 – 1809)
6. Quando la rosa Hob. 24b/3 (for Anfossi’s La Metilde ritrovata) [1:43]
7. Signor, voi sapete Hob. 24b/7 (for Anfossi’s Il matrimonio per inganno) [3:10]
8. Vada adagio, Signorina Hob. 24b/12 (for Guglielmi’s La Quakera spiritosa) [4:15]
La scuola de’ gelosi
9. Sinfonia [3:11]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART
Cosě fan tutte
10. Una donna a quindici anni [3:25]
11. Chi sa, chi sa, qual sia K582 (for Martin y Solér’s Il burbero di buon core) [3:11]
Le nozze di Figaro
12. Un moto di gioia K579 [1:45]
13. Ah se in ciel, benigne stelle K538 (for C P E Bach’s Auferstehung und Himmelfahrt Jesu) [7:05]
Chen Reiss (soprano)
L’arte del mondo/Werner Ehrhardt
rec. 6–9 September 2010, Bayer Kulturhaus, Leverkusen, Germany
Sung texts with English and German translations enclosed
ONYX 4068 [55:48]
It seems that there is a trend today for seeking out rare, even previously unrecorded material, for recital discs instead of issuing yet another collection of standard arias. This is a very appealing trend.
On this disc there are only two numbers that can be labelled standard arias: Susanna’s Deh vieni, non tardar (tr. 2) and Despina’s Una donna a quindici anni (tr. 10). Mozart’s concert arias are performed and have seen a number of recordings but they can’t be regarded as standards and definitely not the ones recorded here. Cimarosa’s Il matrimonio segreto is occasionally performed but recordings are few and far between. The Cetra recording from 1951 with Alda Noni, Giulietta Simionato, Cesare Valletti and Sesto Bruscantini is sonically dated but vocally splendid; an EMI recording from 1956 boasts a cast including Graziella Sciutti, Eugenia Ratti, Ebe Stignani, Luigi Alva and Franco Calabrese; in 1978 Deutsche Grammophon produced a real winner with Daniel Barenboim conducting and Arlene Augér, Julia Varady, Julia Hamari, Ryland Davies, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Alberto Rinaldi in the six roles. There is also a DVD recorded at the Schwetzinger Festspiele in 1986, that I reviewed a handful of years ago. On Arts Music there is a 1991 recording featuring Gloria Banditelli, William Mateuzzi and Petteri Salomaa and finally Dynamic released a version in 2008 where Alberto Rinaldi again is featured. Those two last mentioned I haven’t heard. Though Haydn composed more than a dozen operas this music is little known, even though there are excellent recordings of many of them on Hungaroton and Philips. Salieri is represented here with an aria from Armida (tr. 1) which a world premiere recording, and a superb sinfonia. In other words there is a lot of un-hackneyed music here and this could be a recommendation in itself, whatever the quality of the singing.
The singing would in itself have been wholly recommendable even if the programme had consisted of only old war-horses. I hadn’t heard Chen Reiss before but a quick check tells me that she has issued two albums before and also takes part in the film and sound-track album Perfume. Though I was eager to listen to the rarities here, I still started with Susanna’s Deh vieni.’ What a voice!’ I wrote on my pad. It’s beautiful and beauty of tone can provide satisfying listening, also when the interpretation is bland. Chen Reiss’s interpretation is anything but bland. It is a true reading of Susanna’s emotions in this exquisite aria. The young woman stands out as a warm, unsentimental, three-dimensional character. This is a singer with both voice and soul.
Returning to track one I could note that Ms Reiss also is technically well endowed. She executes Salieri’s heavily embellished aria with admirable fluency. Mozart’s early Voi avete un cor fedele is a grand aria with a slow, very beautiful opening and then a fast, dramatic section. The relatively small orchestra – 14 strings – is splendid and in the Cimarosa overture they show their paces with crisp and assured playing, giving a rousing reading of this etarnally fresh music. Carolina’s aria from the same opera is another highlight. Chen Reiss surpasses Alda Noni’s (Cetra) reading with a fuller, rounder tone than the somewhat acidulous Noni and challenges even Arlene Augér (DG).
Every time I listen to something by Haydn that I haven’t heard before I am so fascinated by how seemingly effortlessly he manages to ‘shake grains of gold out of his sleeve’. These three arias are further examples of his inexhaustible supply of memorable melodic inventions. The Salieri overture is another gem – surprisingly, or is it? Both he and Cimarosa were held in high esteem during their lifetime and such popularity is not achieved without some mastery. They were not merely competent ‘music workers’. Those workers never got into the history books, which Salieri and Cimarosa did.
Chen Reiss sings Una donna a quindici anni with that glint in the eye that is Despina’s hallmark, and there is no drawback in hearing a voice that is fuller and rounder than the traditional thin-voiced soubrette. The other Mozart arias are also marvellously sung and it should be observed that Un moto di gioia is the aria written for Susanna for the Vienna revival of Le nozze di Figaro in August 1789. It is shorter and not so deeply penetrating as Deh vieni but it is charming even so.
Chen Reiss is certainly a name to remember and the disc is thus doubly welcome: for the interesting and un-hackneyed programme and for the marvellous singing. I only wish that Onyx had included more music. There was room for another 20 minutes playing time.
Marvellous singing – an interesting and un-hackneyed programme.