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Brava Berganza
Teresa Berganza (mezzo-soprano)
rec. 1959-62
ELOQUENCE 482 6397 [72:03 + 59:17]

Quite recently I reviewed a twofer with Teresa Berganza covering both early recordings – including a Mozart recital from 1962 – and late – a collection of Mozart concert arias from 1981. Here is the companion set, which harks back to the late 1950s and her very earliest recordings. Mozart and Rossini were from the beginning and throughout her career the cornerstones in her repertoire, and even though she broadened her compass – taking on for instance Carmen – she remained the Mozart singer and Rossini singer par preference. I was lucky to hear her at the Stockholm Royal Opera as Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia when she was at the absolute height of her career in the early 1970s, just about the time she made her legendary second recording of the opera with Abbado. It is nice to hear her here opening the Rossini recital with the two big solos – Una voce poco fa and Contro un cor (the singing lesson) – recorded a dozen years earlier. She remained fresh of tone and absolutely secure from top to bottom of her 2½ octave compass even at an advanced age, but here, not yet 25, it is a very youthful Rosina with all her hallmarks: the soft, rounded tone, the brilliant ringing fortissimo and the fabulously secure coloratura. She added some insight through the years and deepened her interpretations, but for sheer vocal splendour these are hard-to-beat readings.

Isabella in L’italiana in Algeri was another of her great roles, which I got acquainted with as early as the mid-60s through a highlights-LP, where she was partnered by some of the great Rossinians of the day: Luigi Alva, Fernando Corena and Rolando Panerai. There her voice had filled out a bit and given her some more weight in the lowest register, but it is a special treat to hear her in the beginning of the career with such freshness of approach. Fac ut portem from Stabat Mater may be an odd inclusion in the midst of the opera arias, but it is rather operatic and it is lovely sung. I don’t know if she ever sang Semiramide on stage, but she has the measure for Bel raggio lusinghier, often sung in recitals to show off the singer’s technical ability, but this, however stunning, is still overshadowed by the beauty of tone, the warmth of her singing and her phrasing with a myriad of nuances. The finale from La Cenerentola rounds off this recital admirably. She sings it so enticingly that one just wants to go to the complete recording – under Abbado, who also conducted the aforementioned Barbiere – to get the full picture. With brilliant sound, considering the age of the recording, this is a disc that should be in every Rossinian’s collection.

The rest of Disc 1 takes us to the music of the Iberian Peninsula. Early on in her career she appeared in zarzuelas, the typical Spanish operetta, and here we get three such arias, together with Valverde’s popular Clavelitos. The highlight is, to my mind at least, Chapi’s Carceleras. She returned later to this repertoire with two LPs on the Ensayo label, still available as downloads. Even more specifically nationalistic are the eight Basque songs. They are here sung with colourful orchestral accompaniments. There are melodic treasures galore here and Berganza sings them with great affection.

On CD 2 we meet her together with her then husband at the piano in some Italian baroque arias. Well, Cherubini’s Demofonte is hardly baroque, but contemporary with Mozart’s great operas and the aria is a highly attractive piece of Classicism. Cesti’s Orontea, more than a century earlier, is truly beautiful and is stylishly sung. Whether Pergolesi or Vinci composed Confusa, smarrita is a moot point, but it is a vivid and attractive piece, and Alessandro Scarlatti, father of Domenico with all those harpsichord sonatas, always produced well-wrought music. Chi vuoi innamorarsi and Elitropio s’amor are especially memorable.

Spanish songs of the 20th century was another of Berganza’s niches, often rounding off her recitals. Jesús Guridi’s music isn’t too well-known outside Spain but the two species included here should win him new proselytes. Felix Lavilla was also a composer and the suite of four Basque songs is a fine introduction to his art. The enthusiastic Aldapeko Mariya should give rise to ovations even from an audience hard to get round. Turina is probably best known for his orchestral music but he also wrote vocal music and Saeta has attracted several singers, including Victoria de los Angeles, and this song and Farruca are true highlights here. Possibly the most popular Spanish songs are Granados’s melodious Tonadillas and de Falla’s Siete Canciones populares españolas. I have both in dozens of recordings by de los Angeles, Caballé and others. In particular Caballé first solo-LP of the Granados has long been a favourite. She sings them with orchestra, but Berganza with piano just as lovely. Falla is also wonderfully sung with the concluding Polo sung down-to-earth with Carmen-like chest-notes.

Finally she bids goodnight in her husband’s Lullaby, from the famous Gala sequence in Karajan’s recording of Die Fledermaus.
Much better singing of this repertoire you will not find and readers who have overlooked these discs – or maybe not even heard of Teresa Berganza – should immediately correct this deficiency by acquiring the present issue and its companion.

Göran Forsling

CD 1 [72:03]
Gioachino ROSSINI (1792 – 1868)
Il barbiere di Siviglia:
1. Una voce poco fa [6:02]
2. Contro un cor che accende amore [3:57]
L’italiana in Algeri:
3. Cruda sorte! Amor tiranno! [4:11]
4. Per lui che adoro [6:15]
5. Amici ... Pensa all patria [6:04]
Stabat Mater:
6. Fac ut portem Christi mortem [4:24]
7. Bel raggio lusinghier [5:54]
La Cenerentola:
8. Nacqui all’affanno e al pianto ... Non più mesta [6:43]
Jacinto GUERRERO (1895 – 1951)
La Rosa del Azafrán:
9. Sagrario’s Romanza [3:35]
Pedro Miguel MARQUÈS (1843 – 1918)
El Anillo de Hierro:
10. Margarita’s Romanza [3:32]
Padre José Antonio de DONOSTÍA (1886 – 1956)
Resurrección María de AZCUE (1864 – 1951)
Arr. Jesús ARÁMBARRI (1902 – 1960)
Eight Basque Songs:
11. Txalopin txalo (Canción de cuna) [2:00]
12. Nere maitea (Mi amada. Canción amorosa) [1:29]
13. Atea tan tan (Llame a la puerta. Canción amatorial) [1:43]
14. Tun, kurrun kuntun (Onomatopeya. Canción de cuna) [1:50]
15. Arranoak bartuetan (Las aguilas vuelan alteneras. Canción amorosa) [2:32]
16. Ainoarra nimino (El ainoes es pequeño. Canción amoroso) [0:41]
17. Andetegaya (Señorita. Canción amoroso) [1:58]
18. Amak ezkondu ninduen (Me caso mi madre. Canción humoristica) [1:34]
José Juan Cadenas MUÑOZ (1872 – 1947)
Quinito VALVERDE (1875 – 1918)
19. Clavelitos [1:46]
Ruperto CHAPÍ Y LORENTE (1851 – 1909)
20. Carceleras [4:40]

CD 2 [59:17]
Luigi CHERUBINI (1760 – 1842)
1. Ahi! Che forse ai miei dì [5:27]
Antonio CESTI (1623 – 1669)
2. Intorno all’idol mio [3:04]
Attrib. Giovanni Battista PERGOLESI (1710 – 1736)
Possibly by Leonardo VINCI (1696 – 1730)
3. Confusa, smarrita [3:41]
Alessandro SCARLATTI (1660 – 1725)
4. Qual mia colpa ... Se delitto è l’adorarvi [3:13]
5. Chi vuol innamorarsi [1:18]
6. La Rosaura [2:04]
7. Elitropio d’amor [2:35]
Jesús GURIDI (1886 – 1961)
From Six Castilian Songs:
8. No. 5: Cómo quieres que adivine [2:21]
9. No. 6: Mañanita de San Juan [3:26]
Félix LAVILLA (1928 – 2013)
10. Four Basque Songs: [5:36]
Ai Isabel
Aldapeko Mariya
Joaquin TURINA (1882 – 1949)
11. Saeta en forme de Salve a la Virgen de la Esperanza, Op 60 [3:05]
Enrique GRANADOS (1867 – 1916)
From 12 Tonadillas in the old style:
12. El tra la la y el punteado [1:09]
13. El majo timido [1:00]
14. La maja dolorosa [3:33]
Joaquin TURINA
15. Farruca [2:33]
Manuel de FALLA (1876 – 1946)
Seven Popular Spanish Songs:
16. No. 1: El paño moruno [1:06]
17. No. 2: Seguidilla murciana [1:21]
18. No. 3: Astutiana [2:41]
19. No. 4: Jota [2:52]
20. No. 5: Nana [1:32]
21. No. 6: Canción [0:59]
22. No. 7: Polo [1:36]
23. Lullaby [1:46]
(with Regina Resnik as Orlofsky – from Prince Orlofsky’s Ball: The Gala sequence for Herbert von Karajan’s 1960 recording of Die Fledermaus)

London Symphony Orchestra/Sir Alexander Gibson (CD 1 tr. 1 – 8); Orchestra/Benito Lauret (CD 1 tr. 9, 10, 19 & 20); Orchestra/Gerardo Gombau (CD 1 tr. 11 – 18); Félix Lavilla (piano) (CD 2)

Rec at Walthamstow Assembly Hall, 17 – 20 February 1959 (Rossini); Kingsway Hall, London, UK, 10 June 1960 (Lavilla: Lullaby); Decca Studio 3, West Hampstead, London, UK, 17 – 20 January 1962 (Cesti, Cherubini, Pergolesi, Scarlatti, Granados, Guridi, Lavilla, Turina); Spain 1959 (Falla, Valverde/Muñoz, hapi y Lorente, Guerrero, Marqués, Donostia/Azcue)


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