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The Voice of Pilar Lorengar
Pilar Lorengar (soprano)
London Philharmonic Orchestra (1 – 10), Orchestre de la Suisse Romande (11 – 14)/Jesús López-Cobos
rec. Kingsway Hall, London, 2 & 4 – 6 December 1978 (1 – 10); Victoria Hall, Geneva, 5 – 6 March 1983 (11 – 14)
ELOQUENCE 4807840 [76:07]

Pilar Lorengar had already turned 50 when she did this recording in December 1978. She had behind her an already long career as recording artist, and here the mature soprano, with her voice still in excellent shape, depicts women in scenes of decisive importance. She opens with a magnificent Donna Anna from Mozart’s Don Giovanni. She has just learnt that her father was killed in the duel with Don Giovanni. Her fiancé Don Ottavio tries in vain to comfort her, but she is desperately inconsolable. Ian Caley is a good Ottavio.

Her vibrant Vissi d’arte is likewise a sensitive portrait of another deeply desperate woman who, against her will, has been drawn into an uncontrollable situation. After this heartrending prayer Tosca anyway has the strength and courage to stab her tormentor Scarpia to death. Another Puccinian heroine, Manon Lescaut, knows that she is going to die in the forbidding American desert in the last act of the opera. The aria Sola, perduta, abbandonata (Alone, lost, abandoned) is sung here with deep empathy. In the last act of Don Carlo Elisabetta, committed to help her lover Don Carlo, only wants to die, and her long aria is a psychological masterpiece that Pilar Lorengar sings superbly with dramatic power, lyrical feeling and deep insight. I believe that she was sadly underrated during her heydays – at least by the record companies. This CD and its companion twofer with Spanish songs should rectify this. In Spanish opera repertoire we meet her as Salud in two excerpts from de Falla’s La vida breve, and in what, as far as I know, was the final track on the original LP, she also sings the evocative and rather well-known La maya y el ruiseñor from Granados’s Goyescas.

In between these Spanish scenes she returns to Puccini with a deeply felt Senza mamma from Suor Angelica and the always intensely moving final aria from Madama Butterfly. Her despair is certainly tangible. Elsa’s Einsam in trüben Tagen from the first act of Lohengrin is also a woman in distress. Here her vibrato prevents her from achieving the serenely floating tone of a Regine Crespin or Gundula Janowitz, but it is a moving reading in its own right – and she sings gloriously!

The filler is Joaquín Turina’s tribute to his hometown Canto a Sevilla from 1927, a cycle of four songs with orchestra. It has been recorded several times by among others Victoria de los Angeles, and it is colourfully scored. This was Pilar Lorengar’s last commercial recording, set down in March 1983 and released in February 1984 in harness with some orchestral music by Turina. Together with the operatic recital this is a worthy memento over Pilar Lorengar’s achievements also towards the end of a long and successful career. This is an admirable disc that should win the Spanish soprano many new admirers.

Göran Forsling

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756 – 1791)
Don Giovanni, KV 527:
1. Don Ottavio … Son Morta! … Or sai chi l’onore [6:30]
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858 – 1924)
2. Vissi d’arte [3:12]
Manon Lescaut:
3. Sola, perduta, abbandonata [5:27]
Giuseppe VERDI (1813 – 1901)
Don Carlo:
4. Tu che le vanità [10:31]
Manuel de FALLA (1875 – 1946)
La vida breve:
5. Vivan, los que rien! [5:23]
6. Alli está! Riyendo, junto á esa mujé [4:32]
Suor Angelica:
7. Senza mamma [3:55]
Madama Butterfly:
8. Tu, tu, piccolo iddio [2:10]
Richard WAGNER (1813 – 1883)
9. Einsam in trüben Tagen [7:02]
Enrique GRANADOS (1867 – 1916)
10. La maja y el ruiseñor [6:55]
Joaquín TURINA (1882 – 1949)
Canto a Sevilla, Op. 37:
11. 1. Semana Santa [8:06]
12. 2. La Fuentecitas del Parque [4:20]
13. 3. El Fantasma [3:39]
14. 4. La Giralda [3:27]



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