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Un Italien Ŕ Paris - Donizetti / Les Demoiselles De...

Release Date: 04/05/2005 
Label:  Alpha Productions   Catalog #: 70   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Gaetano Donizetti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Demoiselles de...
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 6 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Of Verdi’s three major 19th-century precursors, Donizetti is the one who is least known and appreciated, partially as a result of his prolificity that far outreaches Rossini—Bellini’s limited output allows us a much clearer picture of his talent in its entirety. Donizetti’s songs are little known and little performed, though several collections were published in his lifetime and he even had the signal honor of several Liszt transcriptions. At present, it is usually the same few songs that reappear in recital, a situation familiar to Rossinians until not too long ago.

Soprano Sophie Marin-Degor and mezzo Claire Brua (who call themselves Les Demoiselles de… on this CD, which is itself called “Un Italien à Paris”) have
Read more individually been part of the French musical scene for about 15 years (starting—as so many—in the Baroque world with William Christie, Jean-Claude Malgoire, among others), and have been singing together for almost 10 years. Don’t expect the likes of a Cecilia Bartoli, for this is music written for domestic consumption but nonetheless to be performed by skilled amateurs. We hear a variety of forms, from laments to a drinking duet, some solo numbers but primarily duets that require both voices to be finely attuned to one another when they sing in thirds or in overlapping phrases. And these girls have it. While Brua’s voice takes getting used to, with its dusky quality, she is an ideal partner. Both singers make use of an extensive dynamic range, and the forward accompaniments of Serge Cyferstein are a joy. There are several numbers in triple meter, but the moods are sufficiently varied so that we do not flake out. Che vuoi di piu? starts almost tragically as each singer declaims her feelings, but then we are suddenly in a happy mood. This is followed by C’est le printemps, a “chansonnette-valse,” that couldn’t be any more perky. There are more serious numbers, as La Sultane or La nouvelle Ourika, that clearly descend from the grand operas Donizetti had written for Paris. I bevitori illustrates two buddies drinking each other under the table, and the singers make this a rousing conclusion. I strongly recommend readers to search out their earlier, equally irresistible, duet album, Vivent les vacances!,” with its collection of Gounod, Saint-Saëns, and Lalo.

The only comparisons I could find were a CD (no longer available) with the complete Nuits d’été à Pausilippe sung by Zehava Gal and Bruce Brewer, which makes a totally different impression with the mezzo line suddenly on top and the singers in sixths rather than thirds. That disc is, however, worth finding for it also includes an early cantata for the two singers, Teresa e Gianfaldoni, that will surprise you. And on an Opera Rara recording in their Salotto series, “La Rimembranza,” you can hear Predestinazione in an equally endearing performance by Laura Claycomb and the incisive Manuela Custer.

Joel Kasow, FANFARE
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Works on This Recording

Addio by Gaetano Donizetti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Demoiselles de...
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1844; Milan, Italy 
La lontananza by Gaetano Donizetti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Demoiselles de...
Period: Romantic 
Written: Italy 
Inspirations viennoises: Predestinazione by Gaetano Donizetti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Demoiselles de...
Period: Romantic 
Written: by 1842 
Nuits d'été ŕ Pausilippe by Gaetano Donizetti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Demoiselles de...
Period: Romantic 
Written: by 1836; Italy 

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