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Angela Gheorghiu (soprano), Alexandra Dariescu (piano)
rec. 2018, Wathen Hall, St Paul’s School, London
Sung texts with English translations enclosed DECCA 483 4999 [67:19]
This new recital disc celebrates Angela Gheorghiu’s 25 years as a Decca artist. The repertoire has never been recorded by her, bar Plaisir d’amour which she once set down in an Italian version. 25 years is a long time in the career of a singer and one could expect some decline in voice quality, often an increased vibrato and more strain on the top notes, but those defects are conspicuous only by their absence. The two Romanian songs that open the recital are charmingly sung with perfect legato, she sings the Debussy melodies with feeling and exquisite nuances and in Fauré she is also on her home ground. In particular Aprés un rêve is excellent. She also seems to have a soft spot for Rachmaninov. Spring Waters with its flowing piano accompaniment offers truly great singing and her pianist Alexandra Dariescu makes the waters flow with extra brilliance. Back in time to the late 18th century, Paisiello’s Nel cor più non mi sento is light and expressive. Even better is Bellini’s lovely song to the moon, Vaga luna, with elegant rubato and caressing phrasing. The second stanza is softer still, and I couldn’t resist reprising the song at once.
More Italian repertoire follows with three of Tosti’s best songs. In Ideale there are actually some signs of wear, but her nuances are so lovely, even though I think she could have begun more softly. But this is sensitive music making. Both Sogno and La serenata are equally good, the latter quite powerful – but still with fine nuances.
Moving over to French songs again she sings a charming piece by Rameau, Le Grillon (The Cricket), which was a new acquaintance to me. Chopin’s Tristesse may on the paper seem to be something unknown, but in reality this is one of his best known piano pieces, the Étude Op. 10 No. 3, arranged for voice and piano by Félia Litvinne, who also provides the melancholy text. Litvinne (1860 – 1936) was a Russian-born soprano with a French-Canadian mother who studied with among others the legendary Pauline Viardot. She settled in Paris but sang all over Europe and also in the US, including one season at the Metropolitan Opera. She was best known as a Wagner singer but also tackled coloratura roles and sang Aïda opposite Caruso in Monte Carlo 1915. Her voice is preserved in 35 recordings which are available on CD. Tristesse is a fine adaptation of the Chopin piece and it is so sensitively performed here. In Plaisir d’amour Angela Gheorghiu embellishes the tune discreetly – to good effect. And this is followed by one of Hahn’s most delicious melodies: L’Heure exquise, which is exquisitely sung.
The recital spanning over a number of languages and nationalities, the last part offers German Richard Strauss with an inward Morgen! and a sweeping Cäcilie; Irish Malcolm William Balfe with I dreamt I dwelt in marble halls from his greatest success The Bohemian Girl – and here is nostalgia a-plenty; back to Romanian Brediceanu and Cine m’aude cântând (Anyone who hears me singing) – a welcome rarity; Brazilian Villa-Lobos and Melodia sentimental – also a song worth returning to; and finally Spanish Obradors, whose El vito bubbles over with vitality – a perfect finale to this delicious world tour.
With excellent support from Alexandra Dariescu, state-of-the-art recording and an inviting essay by Jan Tolanski in the booklet this should be a disc for the wish list of Angela Gheorghiu’s many admirers.
Contents George STEPHĂNESCU (1843 – 1925)
1. Cântecul fluieraşului [2:39]
2. Mândruliţă de la munte [3:00] Claude DEBUSSY (1862 – 1918)
3. Nuit d’étoiles L4 [3:07]
4. Beau soir L6 [2:41] Gabriel FAURÉ (1845 – 1924)
5. Après un rêve Op. 7 No. 1 [2:58]
6. Mandoline Op. 58 No. 1 [1:50] Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873 – 1943)
7. Son, Op. 8 No. 5 [1:26]
8. Vesenniye vody Op. 14 No. 11 [2:17] Giovanni PAISIELLO (1740 – 1816)
9. Nel cor più non mi sente [2:15] Vincenzo BELLINI (1801 – 1835)
10. Vaga luna [4:02] Paolo TOSTI (1846 – 1916)
11. Ideale [3:31]
12. Sogno [2:55]
13. La serenata [3:35] Jean-Philippe RAMEAU (1683 – 1764)
14. Le Grillon [2:48] Frédéric CHOPIN (1810 – 1849)
15. Tristesse [3:50] Jean-Paul-Égide MARTINI(1741 – 1816)
16. Plaisir d’amour [3:45] Reynaldo HAHN(1874 – 1947)
17. L’Heure exquise [2:25] Richard STRAUSS (1864 – 1949)
18. Morgen! Op. 27 No. 4 [3:23]
19. Cäcilie Op. 27 No. 2 [2:19] Michael William BALFE (1808 – 1870)
20. I dreamt I dwelt in marble halls [3:27] Tiberiu BREDICEANU (1877 – 1968)
21. Cine m’aude cântând [3:51] Heitor VILLA-LOBOS (1887 – 1959)
22. Melodia sentimental [3:18] Fernando OBRADORS (1897 – 1945)
23. El vito [1:49]