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Arias for All
Ave Sol Choir
Latvian Opera Orchestra/Julian Reynolds
Arrangements by Julian Reynolds
No recording dates and venues given.
SONY 88985 370282 [43:24]

Ave Sol is a Latvian chamber choir, founded almost fifty years ago, with a very wide repertoire. They have been known for their championing of contemporary music, not least by composers from Latvia. The three Baltic countries have a long choral tradition, and the 15th International Choir Festival in Tallinn was held in April this year (2017) with participating choirs mainly from Eastern Europe. The winner of the Grand Prix was actually another Latvian choir, Maska.

On the present disc Ave Sol present a repertoire aimed for a wide audience, performing popular operatic arias and a couple of ensembles, tastefully arranged for mixed choir and accompanied by the Latvian Opera Orchestra. The quality of the singing and playing is uniformly high and people wanting to bask in well-known melodies sung by a classy choir will find a lot to appreciate here. The disc works well as background music to conversation and dining, but more active listeners can enjoy the skilful arrangements, the homogenous choral sound, the perfect intonation and some smashing climaxes. The opening Nessun dorma grows to a mighty Vincerō which should create goose-pimples even to people with little interest in opera. Dalila’s seduction aria is primarily sung by the female voices but Samson’s few lines are allotted to the men. Celeste Aida works well for chorus, as does the barcarolle from Les contes d’Hoffmann. It is of course originally a duet for female voices and that’s the case also with the Flower duet from Lakmé. The famous tenor-baritone duet from Les Pecheurs de perles, legendarily recorded by Jussi Björling and Robert Merrill, is enthusiastically sung here, and in the Carmen Habanera the contraltos have a field day.

Donizetti’s Una furtiva lagrima is, to my mind at least, the least successful transcription, but the gently rocking sextet from Lucia di Lammermoor is spectacular. Very attractive is also Ombra mai fu, which has the character of a sacred choral piece. I get something of the same feeling from Violetta’s Addio del passato from the last act of La traviata while the Brindisi from the same opera is a light-hearted encore, as it often is in recitals with several participants.   If you like good choral singing and/or popular opera melodies this might be something for you. The recording is first class, but you have to make do without texts and translations. No great loss in this case. The playing time is rather parsimonious.  

Göran Forsling



Contents
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858 – 1924)
Turandot:
1. Nessun dorma [3:33]
Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835 – 1921)
Samson et Dalila:
2. Mon Coeur s’ouvre ā ta voix [5:12]
Giuseppe VERDI (1813 – 1901)
Aida:
3. Celeste Aīda (3:50]
Jacques OFFENBACH (1819 – 1880)
Les Contes d’Hoffmann:
4. Barcarolle [3:32]
Leo DELIBES (1836 – 1891)
Lakmé:
5. Dôme épais le jasmin (Flower Duet) [3:19]
Georges BIZET (1838 – 1875)
Les Pecheurs de perles:
6. Au fond du temple saint (Duet) [3:12]
Carmen:
7. L’amour est un oiseau rebelle (Habanera) [4:21]
Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797 – 1848)
L’elisir d’amore:
8. Una furtiva lagrima [3:33]
Lucia di Lammermoor:
9. Chi mi frena in tal momento (Sextet) [3:24]
George Frideric HANDEL (1685 – 1759)
Xerxes:
10. Ombra mai fu (Largo) [3:10]
Giuseppe VERDI
La traviata:
11. Addio del passato [3:13]
12. Libiamo ne’lieti calici (Brindisi) [3:08]

 

 



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