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Gioacchino ROSSINI (1792-1868)
Pensa, pensa, che sei mia figlia (Tancredi) (1813)
Oh Dio! Crudel! ... Ah! segnar invano io tento* (Tancredi)
Oh, come il fosco impetuoso nembo ci separò … Quell'alme pupille (La pietra del paragone) (1812)
Che ascolta, ahimè ... Ah, come mai non senti (Otello) (1816)
Ecco ridente in cielo** (Il barbiere di Siviglia) (1816)
Se il mio nome** (Il barbiere di Siviglia)
Deh! tu m'assisti, amore (Il signor Bruschino) (1813)
D'ogni più sacro impegno (L'occasione fa il ladro) (1812)
Languir per una bella (L'Italiana in Algeri) (1813)
Concedi, concedi, amor pietoso (L'Italiana in Algeri)
Principe più non sei … Sì, ritrovarla io giuro* (La cenerentola) (1817)
Raúl Giménez (tenor)
Chorus*: the Scottish Philharmonic Singers; Guitar**: David Goodall
Scottish Chamber Orchestra/Michelangelo Veltri
rec. City Hall, Glasgow, 1987. DDD
Sung texts with English translations enclosed
NIMBUS NI5106 [61:30]

Vincenzo BELLINI (1801-1835)
Son Salvo! ... A una fonte afflitto e solo … Corre a valle, corre a monte* (I Puritani) (1835)
A te, o cara, amor talora (I Puritani) (1835)
Vedi o madre … Tutto è sciolto* (La Sonnambula) (1831)
Ah! perchè non posso odiarti (La Sonnambula)
Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797 - 1848)
Favorita del Re … Spirto gentil (La Favorita) (1840)
Un vergine, un angel di Dio (La Favorita) (1840)
Ah! mes amis quel jour de fête! (La Fille du Régiment) (1840)
Una furtiva lagrima (L'Elisir d'Amore) (1832)
Povero Ernesto! ... Cercherò lontana terra … E se fia (Don Pasquale) (1843)
Tombe degl' avi miei ... Fra poco a me ricovero (Lucia di Lammermoor) (1835)
Tu che a Dio spegasti l'ali** (Lucia di Lammermoor) (1835)
Raúl Giménez (tenor)
Sally Cooper Dyson (soprano)*; Frank Carroll** (baritone)
The Scottish Philharmonic Singers
Scottish Chamber Orchestra/Michelangelo Veltri
rec. City Hall, Glasgow, 1989. DDD
Sung texts with English translations enclosed
NIMBUS NI5224 [69.44]

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Si spande al sole in faccia (Il re pastore, K.208) (1775)
Se vincendo vi rendo felici (Il re pastore, K.208)
Ah non partir … Già divento freddo freddo (La finta giardiniera, K.196) (1775)
Dalla sua pace (Don Giovanni, K. 527) (1787)
Il mio tesoro (Don Giovanni, K. 527)
Misero! O sogno, o son desto? (Concert Aria K. 431) (1783)
Un’ aura amorosa (Così fan tutte, K. 588) (1790)
In qual fiero contrasto … Tradito, schernito (Così fan tutte, K. 588)
Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön (Die Zauberflöte, K. 620) (1791)
Se all’impero (La clemenza di Tito, K. 621) (1791)
Raúl Giménez (tenor)
Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden/Barry Wordsworth
rec. St. Jude on the Hill, Hampstead, 1991. DDD
Sung texts with English translations enclosed
NIMBUS NI5300 [55:12]

Argentinean tenor Raúl Giménez is now in his early sixties and presumably somewhat less active than when he recorded these operatic recitals for Nimbus between 1987 and 1991, so I have chosen to review the three discs synoptically as kind of retrospective of a great singer. Although he has made some excellent Rossini recordings and sung in the principal operatic venues, he has perhaps never achieved the fame he deserved of the kind enjoyed by his successor Juan Diego Flórez. Their voices are certainly comparable but Giménez has a slightly weightier, duskier quality. It is nonetheless essentially of the light, flexible, high-flying lirico-spinto variety, ideally suited to Mozart, Rossini and bel canto roles. His tone is slightly tight but very even in emission, invariably maintaining smooth legato; he displays an extraordinary subtle command over colour, dynamics and the messa di voce. He has a trill and great florid capability in executing coloratura divisions; apart from the occasional squeezed top note his singing evinces virtually no technical flaws and he is mercifully free of the dreaded aspirates with which too many would-be Rossini tenors mar the line. I much prefer him to his almost exact contemporary, the Mexican tenor Francisco Araiza, who also specialised in Mozart and Rossini but to my ears had a much more constricted sound; amongst the modern tenors who rival him for ease and beauty in this repertoire are Flórez, Lawrence Brownlee, Colin Lee and Barry Banks; he is that good.

Taken as a whole these three albums display a quite uncommon facility in famously difficult music. Despite the honeyed sweetness of his sound he has enough steel in it to allow the voice to ring out in Donizetti’s more extrovert or heroic numbers such as “Ah! mes amis” and the arias from “Lucia”. He does not have the quite the “ping” in his top Cs of either Pavarotti or Flórez but is meltingly lovely in the long-breathed, lyrical arias like “Spirto gentil” or “Una furtive lagrima”, introducing plangent tone, subtle grace notes and grading the volume so elegantly; his soft singing is especially beguiling.

The Rossini recital embraces eleven arias from eight operas, all typically written within a mere five years of each other during the most frenetically creative period of Rossini’s composing career. There is an excellent balance between the selections from both the “dramma giocoso” and “dramma serioso” operas, and Giménez excels in every style; the fluency and élan of his singing are captivating. The Scottish Philharmonic Choir and Scottish Chamber Orchestra are suitably light and energetic under the direction of conductor Michelangelo Veltri, of whom I had not previously heard.

The Mozart album presents arias spanning the composer’s life from eighteen years old to the year of his premature death and brings to mind recordings by the greatest exponents of this music; comparisons with tenors such as Dermota, Simoneau, Wunderlich and Burrows, are by no means inappropriate. My only reservation is that both “Il mio tesoro” and “Un aura amoroso” are taken rather too briskly to permit them to breathe and they are to some extent robbed of the languorous sensuality inherent in the music. Otherwise, this is Mozart singing of the utmost refinement and sensibility. It is good to have the three rarer items of two arias from earlier operas and the concert piece and I once again note Giménez’ ability to encompass the impassioned, declamatory mode of “Se all’impero” and the rapt poise of “Dies Bildnis”, both of which are demanded of the complete Mozart singer. For this final album he has the expert support of the Covent Garden orchestra in first rate sound.
 
Ralph Moore

Previous reviews
Bellini/Donizetti: Robert Hugill
Mozart: Göran Forsling

 

 




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