SONGS TO MARY • Robert Crowe (male sop); Michael Eberth (org) • PROFIL PH 10054 (79:02 Text and Translation)
GRANDI O quam tu pulchra es. Tota pulchra es. Virgo prudentissima. Hodie virgo Jesu dilecta. MONTEVERDI Exulta filia. Pianto della Madonna. CARISSIMI O quam pulchra es. Salve, salve puellule. FRESCOBALDIRead moreToccata. KERLL Toccata
For once, I am at a loss to add much to my review of Robert Crowe’s first solo disc (Fanfare 32:3), a Carissimi program that elicited raves about every aspect of the music and the singer. Carissimi dominates this program with the two longest selections, but Monteverdi’s Pianto della Madonna concludes the program in high style. The disc begins with the chant offertory Ave Maria, one of the most recorded chants in the repertoire (it occurs in both Advent and Marian programs), rendered with great style. Three Italian Baroque composers fill up the vocal portion of the disc, for Frescobaldi and Kerll are represented only by organ toccatas that break the sequence into three segments and give the accompanist a little exposure on his own.
The artist biography offers a long list of operatic appearances here and all over Europe. One event that should have been committed to records was the world premiere on stage of Nikolaus Schapfl’s Der Kleine Prince in Karlsruhe in 2006. This voice in the Saint-Exupéry story must have been a winner. It is a voice of incredible suavity, power, and sheer beauty. I hear none of the faults that former colleague Ralph Lucano reported in his Giulio Cesare (21:4), an indication that the artist has grown and perfected his technique in the intervening years.
After the chant comes Grandi’s masterpiece, O quam tu pulchra es, often recorded by Henri Ledroit, James Bowman, and singers under Andrew Parrott (Jeffrey Thomas), Paul McCreesh (Susan Jones), and Roland Wilson (David Cordier), among others. It serves as well as any piece to display Crowe’s mastery, though the two Monteverdi items, both much recorded, are also of special interest. Grandi’s Hodie virgo seems to be new to records, but from beginning to end this program is a ravishing delight. I hope to hear more of this marvel, but for now don’t miss hearing this incredible voice.
Rare Male SopranoApril 25, 2017By Gary Duncan (Boston, MA)See All My Reviews"Robert Crowe has made far too few recordings. However, this one, released in 2011, is one of the best to hear a true and rare male soprano and as near to a castrato voice as you will hear. The NY Times has praised Mr. Crowe as an artist with staggering gifts. Here are Motets from very early composers to Mary, and the first Ave Maria [Libera usualis, 19th Century]while later than the rest, is a gorgeous opening. This is a CD you will enjoy over and over provided you enjoy this rare voice. He is the second countertenor to be a National Winner of the Metropolitan Opera Competition, and the first male soprano!"Report Abuse
Poor MaryAugust 24, 2014By John E. Halborg (New York, NY)See All My Reviews"I have never heard a recital so poorly performed. I canno blieve that he seriously offered the Ave Maria. He might have a lovely voice but he needs coaching, and that right soon."Report Abuse