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The Heart That Flutters / Lawrence Brownlee, Iain Burnside

Duparc / Brownlee / Burnside
Release Date: 05/28/2013 
Label:  Opus Arte   Catalog #: 9015   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  TraditionalHenri DuparcFranz LisztGaetano Donizetti,   ... 
Performer:  Lawrence BrownleeIain Burnside
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 12 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



THIS HEART THAT FLUTTERS Lawrence Brownlee (ten); Iain Burnside (pn) OPUS ARTE 9015 (70:23 Text and Translation) Live: London 5/25/2010 1 & 9/24/2012 2


SPIRITUAL Deep River. Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child. DUPARC Chanson Triste. Le Manoir de Rosemonde. Extase. Phidylé. Read more class="COMPOSER12">LISZT 1 Three Petrarch Sonnets. DONIZETTI 1 La fille du Regiment: Ah! mes amis…Pour mon âme. MOORE I Would in That Sweet Bosom Be. The Cloak, the Boat and the Shoes. This Heart That Flutters. The Lake Isle of Innisfree. ROSSINI 2 Il turco in Italia: Tu seconda il mio disegno. GINASTERA Cinco canciones populaires argentines


I first heard Lawrence Brownlee on a radio ad for the Cincinnati Opera’s production of La fille du Regiment. Of course they were playing the famous aria “Pour mon âme” with its nine high Cs, and without knowing who the tenor was I thought I might be listening to a recording of Luciano Pavarotti. That’s how similar Brownlee’s voice sounded at that time, although one could tell that it was a little smaller in size (not that Pavarotti was Tucker or Caruso by any means). But the bright tone, the flexibility, the “ping” in the high notes, all reminded one of Pavarotti.


Of course, bel canto tenors—especially nowadays, but even in the past—are famous for just one thing (well, make that two things), high notes and flexibility in fiorature . They are not usually masters of interpretation, mostly because their music doesn’t call for it. As long as you can sing those rapid-fire fiddly bits, throw in a mordent or a trill (or both) now and then, and bang out high notes up to at least a D? (and some go higher, to an occasional E or F), that’s all you need to make a ton of money and be in demand around the world. Thus I approached this CD, with its songs by Duparc, Liszt, Ginastera, and Ben Moore, somewhat warily. The only bel canto specialist of either gender who I can recall singing Lieder with some degree of success was Kathleen Battle, and she was always a special case. Imagine my surprise, then, to hear Brownlee sing this material, as well as the two spirituals, with a degree of interpretation I would not have thought possible for him. Mind you, in the French songs he does not efface memories of Souzay or Gedda or Baker in similar material (I have Souzay and Eleanor Steber singing “Chanson triste,” Baker singing “Le manoir de Rosemonde,” Souzay performing “Extase” and Maggie Teyte, Souzay, Baker, and Karita Mattila doing “Phidylé”), but Brownlee sings with a great deal of heart, bringing each line to life and making one sit up and take notice: this is a true artist, and a complete one. Moreover, his breath and voice control is very nearly as stunning as Battle’s were: just listen to the nearly endless, and seamless, line he achieves in “Extase;” it’s even finer than Souzay’s in the same song. In “Phidylé,” the only singer I’ve heard who surpasses Brownlee in vocal coloration and fineness of line is Janet Baker in her prime. This is some pretty heady competition to be compared to.


In the three Liszt Petrarch Sonnets , Brownlee’s vocal control—especially considering that this is a live recording—is simply phenomenal, even achieving a messa da voce effect (a diminuendo followed immediately by a crescendo on the same note without taking a breath) in “Pace non trovo”—and hitting an effortless high D?—that are simply phenomenal. This is the kind of tenor singing—interpretive qualities included—that one can only compare to some of the greatest tenors of the 20th century, names like Gedda and Slezak (I’m thinking of Leo’s early recording of “O quand je dors”), as well as such modern masters of Liszt interpretation (and sheer singing) as Elisabeth Kulman and Thomas Hampson.


As expected, Brownlee sings his calling-card aria, the showoff piece from La fille du Regiment. Is he as good as Pavarotti? No, he is better: the line is purer, the high notes more rounded and not sounding as if he is at the end of his tether. When Pavarotti first hit the big time in America, around 1970, I thought he had the potential to become the greatest bel canto tenor in the world, but within a very few years he was encroaching on heavier territory—Manrico, Calaf, Ernani, etc.—and although he was exciting, the voice was never the right size for the music and the lyric line started showing cracks, then breaks. Brownlee has no breaks in the voice, none at all, and he is wisely sticking within his Fach . Not merely an extremely talented singer, then, but a very smart one.


By the time Brownlee reaches the Moore songs, one is aware that he is a very special talent indeed, not least because—and I’ve harped on this forever and anon— you can understand the words! No question about it, Brownlee has mastered the knack of pronunciation, even in the high range where one does occasionally lose a consonant or two, but by and large you can follow the words. (In recalling the previous material on this recital, I felt that Brownlee’s Italian diction was superb, his French clear but not entirely idiomatic in pronunciation.) Moore’s compositional style is, to a certain extent, like Ned Rorem’s in that it is modern and tonal but doesn’t sound formulaic or routine. In fact, I would go so far as to say that Moore makes these songs sound like folk-song settings with a few modern harmonies tossed in for flavoring.


Although I’ve grown a bit weary of bel canto opera over the years (for reasons put forth in the second paragraph of this review), when you listen—really listen—to the way he sings “Tu seconda il mio disegno” from Rossini’s Il turco in Italia, you come to realize how much he surpasses Juan Diego Flórez in expressivity. Moreover, Brownlee can phrase in such a way that he doesn’t even sound as if he is taking a breath, which in this respect only put me very much in mind of the way John McCormack could sing similar material (listen to McCormack’s recordings of “Pur dicesti,” “Il mio tesoro,” “O sleep, why dost thou leave me?,” and other such).


Again, as with his French diction, Brownlee’s Spanish is not entirely idiomatic (as opposed to clearly sung), but when you can sing Ginastera’s Five Popular Argentinean Songs this well—with such poetic imagery and complete grasp of both the musical and interpretive qualities—one can forgive the slight Americanization of pronunciation. Brownlee concludes his recital disc with “Sometimes I feel like a motherless child,” and in this particular song I didn’t felt that he quite achieved as fine an expression as Battle did, but it’s good enough.


If you are a fan of outstanding tenor singing and/or most of the songs on this album, you need to pick up this CD.


FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley
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Works on This Recording

1.
Deep river by Traditional
Performer:  Lawrence Brownlee (Tenor), Iain Burnside (Piano)
Written: USA 
2.
Phidylé by Henri Duparc
Performer:  Lawrence Brownlee (Tenor), Iain Burnside (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1882; France 
3.
Le manoir de Rosemonde by Henri Duparc
Performer:  Lawrence Brownlee (Tenor), Iain Burnside (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1879; France 
4.
Extase by Henri Duparc
Performer:  Lawrence Brownlee (Tenor), Iain Burnside (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: France 
5.
Chanson triste by Henri Duparc
Performer:  Lawrence Brownlee (Tenor), Iain Burnside (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1868; France 
6.
Petrarch Sonnets (3), S 270 by Franz Liszt
Performer:  Lawrence Brownlee (Tenor), Iain Burnside (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1839/1861; Switzerland 
7.
La fille du régiment: Ah, mes amis...Pour mon âme by Gaetano Donizetti
Performer:  Lawrence Brownlee (Tenor), Iain Burnside (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1840; Italy 
8.
I Would in that Sweet Bosom Be by Ben Moore
Performer:  Lawrence Brownlee (Tenor), Iain Burnside (Piano)
9.
The Cloak, the Boat, and the Shoes by Ben Moore
Performer:  Lawrence Brownlee (Tenor), Iain Burnside (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
10.
This Heart that Flutters by Ben Moore
Performer:  Lawrence Brownlee (Tenor), Iain Burnside (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
11.
The Lake Isle of Innisfree by Ben Moore
Performer:  Lawrence Brownlee (Tenor), Iain Burnside (Piano)
12.
Il turco in Italia: Tu seconda il mio disegno by Gioachino Rossini
Performer:  Lawrence Brownlee (Tenor), Iain Burnside (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1814; Italy 
13.
Canciones (5) populares argentinas, Op. 10 by Alberto Ginastera
Performer:  Lawrence Brownlee (Tenor), Iain Burnside (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1943; Argentina 
14.
Sometimes I feel like a motherless child by Traditional
Performer:  Lawrence Brownlee (Tenor), Iain Burnside (Piano)
Written: USA 

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