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Amore e Morte
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
Stornello (Anon) (1869) [1:57]
Perduta ho la pace (Goethe, trans. Balestra) (1838) [4:06]
La fioaia fiorentina (Romani) (1845) [2:18]
Ad una stella (Maffei) (1845) [3:08]
Vincenzo BELLINI (1801-1835)
L’abbandono (Anon) [3:58]
Malinconia, ninfa gentile (Pindemonte) [1:32]
Ma rendi pur contento (Metastasio) [2:35]
Il fervido desiderio (Anon) [2:30]
Bella Nice che d’amore (Anon) [2:58]
Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1848)
La conocchia (Anon) (1836) [1:59]
Amore e morte (Redaelli) (1837) [2:26]
A mezzanotte (Anon) [3:48]
Amor marinaro (Anon) [2:12]
Eterno amore fè (Anon) [2:43]
La Zingara (Guaita) 3:41]
Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868)
La pastorella (Santo-Magno) (1830-35) [2:30]
La gita in gondola (Pepoli) [6:16]
La promessa (Metastasio) [3:23]
La fioaia fiorentina (?Torre - Péchés de vieillesse, vol.1) [4:06]
Ekaterina Siurina (soprano); Iain Burnside (piano)
rec. February 2010, St Paul’s Church, New Southgate, London
Texts and translations included
OPUS ARTE OACD9017D [58:13]

This release forms part of the Rosenblatt Recital series and other equally well programmed discs have recently been issued performed by singers Ailish Tynan, who sings Fauré, and Francesco Meli, who sings Britten’s Michelangelo Sonnets. In the disc under review the soprano is the Russian Ekaterina Siurina and the pianist Iain Burnside, who also accompanies Tynan and will doubtless himself feature in many of these releases given that he is the Recital’s artistic consultant.
 
The well-chosen title makes plain that the Italian song repertoire performed revolves around these twin poles, though on balance amore is the more audibly encountered. Indeed the programming is consistently canny in varying expressive and technical burdens and in moving from the serious to the not-so-serious without in any way trivialising what has already been sung when in deeper vein. The programme respects recital groups; thus there are four Verdi songs broken into groups of two: five Bellini songs sung in two and three: six Donizetti split equally; and a run of four Rossini songs, the only composer whose songs are sung straight through in a sequence. His songs form, in many ways, the centrepiece of the recital.
 
It was clever to start with Verdi’s brisk, bright Stornello which prefaces the more sombre Perduta ho la pace in which Verdi took the same text by Goethe - albeit in translation - that Schubert had taken for his Gretchen am Spinnrade. Here and elsewhere Burnside proves a consistently thoughtful and equal partner; his sensitively shaped introduction to Bellini’s L’abbandono being just one example of the care he takes here and in postludes to characterise the music without misshaping it. Donizetti’s La conocchia trips along with considerable rhythmic brio whilst the song which lends its name to the disc’s title, whichDonizetti wrote in 1837, is infused with the air of melancholy that lends itself to Siurina’s singing, which has purity of tone, directness of line, and a naturalness of expression sufficient to all the material she espouses here.
 
When characterisation is required it’s sketched with knowing humour, which communicates well; the half yodel in Rossini’s La pastorella dell’Alpi is perhaps the most obvious example of the droll wit to be heard amidst the love and death but this cheery insouciance is never overdone, and never strays into the realms of caricature. La gita in gondola offers both musicians opportunities for cultivating the necessary undulating rhythm and for Siurina to deal with the high-lying writing with full tone. When Rossini demands coloratura, as he does in La fioaia fiorentina she is up to the challenge as indeed she is in the roulades of Verdi’s La fioaia fiorentina. The more easy-going songs - the tra-la-la of Donizetti’s Amor marinaro is an exemplary example - are full of charm and personality. So too is the sense of adroit musicianship to be encountered in a relatively little-known song such as Eterno amore e fè.
 
This is a most sympathetically performed selection of Italian songs, full of range and sensitivity as to juxtaposition and balance. It’s also been beautifully recorded.
 
Jonathan Woolf