Andrzej Dobber (baritone)
Dariusz Machej (bass)(9)
Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra/Antoni Wit
Rec. Warsaw Philharmonic Concert Hall, May 2013
No texts enclosed.
DUX 0959 [63:31]
When I heard Andrzej Dobber in Stiffelio at the Metropolitan Opera in New York a little more than four years ago I was deeply impressed. In a thumb-nail review I wrote that his ‘timbre reminded me of Renato Bruson’s. He seems predestined for a great career.’ Little did I suspect that the singer had behind him a career of twenty-five years, so unspoilt was his voice. The present recital was recorded more than three years later and the voice is still in mint condition, even though one understands that he is not in his early youth. The characteristics that impressed me so much in NY are very much in evidence in the opening number: Posa’s death from Don Carlos. This is warm, noble singing with excellent legato and finely shaded nuances. His attempt at a trill is however sketchy.
He may not be as apt at impersonating evil characters since the scene from the last act of Macbeth is a bit lacking in intensity. The slow tempo may be the reason that the reading feels too laid-back but his legato in the aria – one of Verdi’s most touching melodies – is wonderful.
I had expected a more nuanced reading of Di provenza il mar from La traviata but it is actually a little wooden. Also the Rigoletto aria is lacking in intensity, though both these solos should no doubt have received ovations in the opera house.
Igor’s aria from Prince Igor is again very slow but has authority and authentic Slavonic character. Onegin’s aria from Eugene Onegin is among the best readings here, warm and lyrical. Then, singing in his mother-tongue, he gives a spirited reading of the aria from The Haunted Manor. It is sung with real gusto and rhythmical verve.
The death scene from Boris Godunov is another highlight. Readers used to the larger-than-life readings of Chaliapin may be disappointed by Dobber’s peeled-off approach without histrionics but it is a very gripping portrait of the tsar’s last minutes.
The scene from the first act of Parsifal is also excellent. Dobber is a very fine Amfortas and Dariusz Machej partners him well as Titurel.
Finally a good stab at Nabucco’s great scene from the final act of the opera: intense and dark in the recitative - exemplary legato in the aria. This is his best Verdi, together with the scene from Don Carlos.
The playing of the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra under Antoni Wit is beyond reproach. Whether Wit is to blame for the slow speeds in a couple of the arias is a moot point. The recording is good and I only regret that there are no texts in the booklet.
Though there is some falling-off in a couple of numbers this is, on the whole, an attractive recital.
Giuseppe VERDI (1813 – 1901)
1. Son io, mio Carlo (The death of Posa, Act III) [9:05]
2. Perfidi! All’Anglo … Pietà, rispetto amore (Macbeth’s scene and aria Act IV) [5:36]
3. Di provenza il mar (Germont’s aria Act II) [4:18]
4. Cortigiani, vil razza dannata (Rigoletto’s aria Act II) [4:26]
Alexander BORODIN (1833 – 1887)
5. Ni sna, ni otdycha (Igor’s aria Act II) [7:47]
Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840 – 1893)
6. Wy mnie pisali … Kogda by zyzn’ domasznim krugom (Onegin’s recitative and aria Act I) [5:05]
Stanislaw MONIUSZKO (1819 – 1872)
The Haunted Manor:
7. Kto z mych dziewek serce ktorej (The Sword-bearer’s aria Act II) [3:49]
Modest MUSORGSKY (1839 – 1881)
8. Tsarevicha skorey (Godunov’s death scene Act IV) [7:13]
Richard WAGNER (1813 – 1883)
9. Wehe, wehe mir der Qual (Amfortas‘ and Titurel’s scene Act I) [10:16]
10. Son pur queste mie membra ... Ah, prigioniero io sono (Nabucco’s scene and aria Act IV) [5:56]