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Review: Russian Light (Olga Peretyatko, Ural Philharmonic/Dmitri Liss)

There have been a number of recital discs dedicated to Russian repertoire in recent years, most memorably Aida Garifullina’s solo debut on Decca. Peretyatko’s Russian Light is a slightly different project however. Less of a hotchpotch, it focuses on a few composers, allowing for a more coherent picture of the artist. What is shared, however, is a pleasing idiomatic delivery that goes a long way with an offering such as this. Peretyatko made her name in most of the typical ina-roles, known more for her coloratura than a real engagement with character or text. While this recording still reveals an artist finding her way, it gives listeners a taste of her developing lower register, shown off to greatest advantage in the Rachmaninov selections. The Vocalise is nicely done, demonstrating an attractive velvety tone and dark colours we don’t always get with lighter sopranos, while the inherent nostalgia of Ne poy, krasavitsa, pri mne shows that Peretyatko can sing with real intention when she chooses. Her overall precision and musicality is also to be commended. The soprano shines brightest in Marfa’s aria from The Tsar’s Bride. Marvellously controlled, she tosses off cadenzas and pianos with facility, building to an emotional climax…

CD and Other Review

Review: Écho (Joyce El-Khoury, Hallé/Carlo Rizzi)

Opera Rara was created to explore forgotten bel canto operas. Fifty years on it has an award-winning catalogue and a starry stable of artists. Two of these, tenor Michael Spyres and soprano Joyce El-Khoury, have released recital discs, each featuring guest appearances from the other. Écho, the Lebanese-Canadian soprano’s debut solo recording, is a tribute to 19th-century soprano Julie Dorus-Gras, whose dramatic and vocal range made her the soloist of choice for Donizetti, Berlioz, Meyerbeer and more. It’s easy to see the appeal for El-Khoury, whose craggy, smoky soprano carries unusual weight and depth of colour in this repertoire. She won’t be for everyone; fans of Sutherland’s silken smoothness will find El-Khoury’s texture too pitted and uneven. But the dramatic payoff is striking, especially in roles like Lucia (whose Regnava nel silenzio and the duet Verranno a te sull’aure both feature), where the heroine has a woman’s confidence and depth, as well as an agility that belies the size of her instrument. Which isn’t to say she can’t do simple beauty. Ils s’eloignent enfin from Guillaume Tell unfolds in a lovely long legato, and Benvenuto Cellini’s Les belles fleurs shows El-Khoury’s more youthful side, finding a piquancy so evident in…

CD and Other Review

Review: Espoir (Michael Spyres, Hallé/Carlo Rizzi)

Of the 19th-century singers who created the framework for what we consider the modern tenor voice, three stand out: Adolphe Nourrit (1802-1839), Giovanni Battista Rubini (1794-1854) and Gilbert Duprez (1806-96). Each in his way explored the upper register using varying degrees of chest voice as opposed to the falsetto commonly deployed in the Baroque. As the instrument developed, so composers wrote increasingly demanding roles for their male stars – Rossini for Rubini, Bellini for Nourrit, and Donizetti for Duprez. Rubini’s membership of the famous ‘Puritani Quartet’ and Nourrit’s grisly end – depressed by his declining career, he leapt to his death from the roof of a Naples hotel – have rather eclipsed Duprez. A pity, as with his chested high Cs in a legendary 1837 performance of Rossini’s Guillaume Tell, he can stake a greater claim to historical importance. But Duprez was more than just your standard ‘park and bark’ tenor as this fascinating recital by American rising star Michael Spyres goes to prove. Duprez, in fact, started out singing Almaviva in his native Paris, and that lyricism and flexibility would stay with him, informing his later Italian career and especially the close working and personal friendship the singer formed…

CD And Other Reviews


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