The transforming power of imagination is rarely shown so clearly. On record and in recital these songs and their like have so often appeared as tepid little exercises, cautious investigations of the voice, the acoustic, the audience. And oh, you think, pity the pianist, with those doodling arpeggios and beginner’s chords! Pity us, too, who have to pin all hopes on melody, for other kinds of interest – harmonic, rhythmic, contrapuntal – are stunted indeed. But now, behold, they burgeon. Life abundant lies within the vocal line, and even the silly old accompaniments sound well.
Such is the effect of the Bartoli-Levine combination. Of course this can not be more than a hunch (for direct comparisons with early performances byRead more the singer are not at hand) but from the very first bars it feels that something special among Bartoli’s many fine recordings have come into being here with these two distinguished artists in association. Comparisons of another kind do present themselves. Three of the items in the programme occur also in a recent recording, similar in its contents, by Eva Mei and Fabio Bidini. Introducing Vaga luna, Levine establishes a sense of movement, flexible and responsive to mood; the voice then, thoughtful and private, warms with “fervido desir” and has within it a passion (however subdued) to colour “i palpiti e i sospir”. And so forth. The Mei-Bidini performance is by comparison a non-event. Then in Il barcaiolo how boldly and rightly Bartoli and Levine ride the tempo, when the others simply, so to speak, sit on it. In Ah, rammenta, o bella Irene the tone deepens with “O Dio, m’avanza”, and the delicately introduced song ends with an uninhibited brilliance where the other performers make a merely dutiful progression.
Among the less familiar items, Bellini’s Torna, vezzosa Fillide may come as the most engaging discovery. Rossini’s miniature Requiem for his mother-in-law seems not to be a joke, whereas the Aragonese (a setting in the style of Aragon of Mi lagnero tacendo) surely must be. The booklet has nothing to say about it. I suppose there might have been something to say here and now about intrusive ‘h’s and that other intrusion, a breathy quality sometimes cultivated in (presumably) the interests of expression or intimacy, but they are not gross or prohibitive features of the singing here, and the lovely voice and lively art make ample amends.
Les soirées musicales: no 8, La danzaby Gioachino Rossini Performer:
Cecilia Bartoli (Soprano),
James Levine (Piano)
Period: Romantic Written: circa 1830-1835; Italy Length: 3 Minutes 8 Secs.
Vaga luna che inargenti
Ah! rammenta, o bella Irene
Or che di fiori adorno
Malinconia, ninfa gentile
Amore e morte
Il fervido desiderio
Torna, vezzosa Fillide
Vanne, o rosa fortunata
Dolente immagine di Fille mia
A ma belle mere
Per pieta, bell'idol mio
Me voglio fa'na casa
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
Superlative performancesAugust 20, 2013By Dr. Stephen Schoeman (Westfield, NJ)See All My Reviews"There are two superlative performances on this wonderful CD. That of Cecilia Bartoli who sings bel canto arias not generally well known. That of maestro James Levine who accompanies her on the piano. This marvelous pairing of great artists is a joy to hear. Theirs is a flawless presentation. Mr. Levine always manages just the right touch, always in step with Ms. Bartoli, a forte when required, a pianissimo when required. This is a true duet and not a duel! And then there is the sheer joy of hearing arias of Bellini, Rossini, and Donizetti. It doesn't get better than this! How could it? Stephen Schoeman, Ph. D."Report Abuse