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Julie Davies (soprano) - Première Portraits
Vincenzo BELLINI (1801 – 1835)
Sei Ariette / Six Ariettas
1. No. 2: Vonne, o rosa fortunata (Metastasio) [2:48]
2. La farfalletta (Anon) [2:11]
Sei Ariette / Six Ariettas
3. No. 5: Per pietÓ, bell’idol mio (Metastasio) [3:06]
4. No. 6: Ma rendi pur contento (Metastasio) [2:34]
Franz SCHUBERT (1797 – 1828)
4 Canzonas D 688
5. No. 1: Non t’accostar all’urna (Vittorelli) [3:25]
6. No. 2: Guarda, che bianca luna (Vittorelli) [3:28]
7. No. 3: Da quel sembiante appresi (Metastasio) [2:09]
8. No. 4: Mio ben ricordati (Metastasio) [2:13]
9. Vedi quanto adoro D 510 (Metastasio) [4:44]
Franz LISZT (1811 – 1886)
3 Sonetti del Petrarca S 270a
10. I. Pace non trovo [7:27]
11. II. Benedetto sia ‘I giorno [6:01]
12. III. I vidi in terra [6:07]
Richard WAGNER (1813 – 1883)
13. Les adieux de Marie Stuart WWV 61 (Peirre-jean de Beranger) [6:47]
Charles Spencer (piano)
rec. 4tune Studios, Vienna, 2015
No song texts enclosed
CAPRICCIO C3003 [53:33]

Under the collective title PremiŔre Portraits Capriccio started a series a couple of years ago, where they launched promising young singers – a kind of rising stars. So far I have reviewed four of them (review ~ review ~ review ~ review) and here now is the fifth one. As before the presentation is meagre: bios on the singer and the pianist in German and English and a track-list on the back of the jewel-case, but there is not a word about the music, and besides the three Liszt songs, which are fairly well-known, the rest of the programme is far from that. The sung texts are not enclosed either, which is another black mark. Considering that the discs sell at only slightly below full price this is rather parsimonious.

Leaving these matters open, the musical side has a lot to offer. The pianist, Charles Spencer, is certainly one of the most reliable accompanists around, and so far he has participated in all but one of the issues in this series. He certainly makes the most of Liszt’s Petrarch sonnets, which tend to be the highpoint of this disc with truly expressive singing by Ms Davies. She is American and has made her mark in several international opera houses in roles like Lucia di Lammermoor, Violetta in La traviata and Amina in La sonnambula. Her tone is sometimes a bit edgy but her technique is healthy and she has a good legato. The Bellini songs are charming. Three of them are settings of Metastasio, arguably the most popular librettist of the 18th century. He was famous for the beauty of his poetry, grateful for the singers. Ma rendi pur content (tr. 4) is perhaps the most beautiful and it is sung here softly and sensitively. The most immediately catchy is however the lively La farfalletta (tr. 2) to an anonymous text.

Schubert’s 4 Canzonas – two of them also to Metastasio texts – are not very typical for the composer. In fact they are rather anonymous. They are quite modest and were composed for a young singer, Franziska Roner von Ehrenwerth, who belonged to the Schubert circle. She was no virtuoso, but she obviously was more than just an amateur. The fifth song, Vedi quanto adoro (tr. 9), is a different matter. The text, again by Metastasio, is from Didone abbandonata, a full-length opera libretto from 1724. John Reed supposes that Schubert composed the aria as a calling-card to present to some opera house, with the possible outcome that he would be employed. It is a dramatic, rather dark aria, which shows that Schubert might have become an opera composer, if he had found the right libretto. Julie Davies sings with great intensity but presses the voice too hard.

This also happens occasionally in the Liszt songs, where her vibrato tends to spread under pressure. But it is expressive! Listen to her deep identification in the third, I vidi in terra (tr. 12). Here is communication on a high level, and this is a sign that Julie Davies has the potential to reach the stars.

The concluding song, Richard Wagner’s Les adieux de Marie Stuart, was composed in Paris in 1840, while he tried to make a living on writing articles and novelettes and also composed songs, hoping they would attract the French. Les adieux de Marie Stuart is certainly Wagner at his most turgid.

There are swings and roundabouts here, both musically and vocally, but even the weaker songs have their attraction and Julie Davies at her best is worth the attention of a wide audience.

G÷ran Forsling



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