Pumeza Matshikiza (soprano)
Aarhus Symfoniorkester/Tobias Ringborg
rec. Musikhuset, Aarhus, Denmark, 3-9 June 2015
Sung texts with English, German and French translations enclosed DECCA 478 8954 [52:32]
South-African soprano Pumeza Matshikiza, now in her mid-thirties, is one of today’s rising stars. She has been a member of the ensemble in Stuttgart
since 2011, and several of her roles there are represented on this disc, her second since her debut for Decca in 2014. I haven’t heard that debut disc but hope to review it before long. The title of the present disc, “Arias” is a little misrepresentative since about a third of the content comprises songs, but so what? We can enjoy her rich, warm voice in a variety of styles and whatever she sings she shows her musicality, excellent phrasing, fine nuances and glorious tone with brilliant top. It is a classy voice but she also characterizes well: Wally is distinctly a different person than Mimě. Mimě is a weaker individual than the magnificent Wally. Her Suor Angelica demonstrates impressive breath control. Rusalka is also glorious – and listen to the great orchestral playing. This is far from a provincial orchestra and confirms the high standard of the Nordic orchestras. Liů has all the pathos one expects from her and it is good that she wanders off a bit from the standard repertoire and offers a well-sung excerpt from Ravel’s Spanish opera.
In a lighter vein we get the classic La Paloma, and the arrangement is a classic too. It was written fifty years ago for Victoria de los Angeles’ A World of Song, and I have lived with that LP since it was new and worn it out. Pumeza has obviously listened to it and adopted much of de los Angeles’ exquisite phrasing. Los Angeles also sang and recorded Montsalvatge’s Cinco canciones negras and Pumeza has, it seems to me, been influenced by the older singer. One can have worse models.
Fauré’s Aprčs un ręve is given a full-throated reading, which is tempting with the orchestral accompaniment. Certainly a glorious version but it loses some of the intimacy that is part of the composition. Hahn’s Ŕ Chloris is gloriously done - a song that is desert island music for me. This is now my favourite version.
The remaining numbers take us to the classicist period and even further back with Purcell. Sarti’s opera Le gelosie villane was premiered in 1776 and stylistically it seems more like early nineteenth century but the singing is glorious. Pumeza’s Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro is arguably a Countess in disguise, but she certainly adopts a quite girlish tone and no one can deny the beauty of the singing. Euridice is also a more formidable character than we’ve become accustomed to with all the period performances. After all she is a strong-willed person who manages to make Orfeo turn and face her – to her own detriment. Finally her Dido is utterly touching in the grand tradition of Kirsten Flagstad and Jessye Norman.
With a voice of rare beauty, and musicality and expressivity to match, I am sure that Pumeza Matshikiza is set for a great career. Her voice takes well to the microphones and Tobias Ringborg, inspired no doubt by the singing, draws excellent playing from the Aarhus Symfoniorkester. A lovely disc.
Contents Giacomo PUCCINI (1858 – 1924)
1. Si, mi chiamano Mimě [4:39] Alfredo CATALANI (1854 – 1893)
2. Ebben, ne andrň lontana [3:37] Giacomo PUCCINI
3. Senza mamma [4:27] Antonin DVORAK (1841 – 1904)
4. Měsičku na nebi hlubokém (Song to the Moon) [5:41] Giacomo PUCCINI
5. Tu che di geol sei cinta [2:49] Maurice RAVEL (1875 – 1937)
6. Oh! La pitoyable aventure! [2:45] Sebastián YRADIER (1809 – 1865)
7. La Paloma [3:32] Xavier MONTSALVATGE (1912 – 2002)
Cinco canciones negras:
8. Punto de Habanera [1:52] Paolo TOSTI (1846 – 1916)
9. Si tu le voulais [2:27] Gabriel FAURÉ (1845 – 1924)
10. Aprčs un ręve [3:16] Reynaldo HAHN (1874 – 1947)
11. Ŕ Chloris [2:56] Giuseppe SARTI (1729 – 1802)
Le gelosie villane:
12. Lungi dal caro bene [3:24] Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756 – 1791)
Le nozze di Figaro:
13. Giunse alfin il momento... [1:08]
14. Deh vieni, non tardar [3:01] Christoph Willibald GLUCK (1714 – 1787)
Orfeo ed Euridice:
15. Che fiero momento [3:06] Henry PURCELL (1659 – 1695)
Dido and Aeneas:
16. When I am laid in earth (Dido’s Lament) [3:50]