Having reviewed the very first concert of soprano Nicole Car’s national tour with the Australian Chamber Orchestra, I was interested to see whether my previous feelings would match up with my responses to it on CD. I wrote then that Car “shows herself to be an accomplished, detailed recitalist”, but expressed some reservations about her ability to fully inhabit the more dramatic arias in recital. Beethoven’s Ah! perfido was one such example – a tumultuous scena requiring a capital T tragedian with ferocity of attack and top-notch coloratura, I didn’t quite feel this was either in Car’s dramatic or technical compass at the time.
My feelings about her dramatic reading haven’t drastically changed, but I am pleased to report that the album yields some details either absent that first performance or integrated over the course of the tour. There’s a greater cohesiveness here, Car bringing together more successfully the aria’s shifting moods, while her runs are cleaner and there’s a touch more freedom up top.
She’s more at home in Mozart – Basta, vincesti is a convincing portrait of a woman pleading with her lover not to desert her, and she invests each repeat of “ah non lasciarmi” with a specific emotion. Misera, dove son is similarly effective, demonstrating both musical awareness and depth of feeling. Chi sà, chi sà, qual sia is sung with ample charm and freshness of tone.
The Ave Maria from Otello is very promising indeed, Car carefully establishing a powerful undercurrent of sorrow and desperation. Hopefully Desdemona lies not too far in the future.
The ACO provides taut, incisive support, as well as a fine account of Mozart’s Symphony No 27. First violin Satu Vänskä also offers a nicely judged Beethoven Romance in F, sidestepping the usual schmaltz, and they all have fun in selections from Handel’s Alcina.
A note about program order, however – surely a disc titled Heroines and so clearly marketed on Car’s image should get to her arias a bit sooner? As it stands, you hear her about 10 tracks in which feels strange.
Composer: Mozart, Beeethoven, Verdi
Composition: Concert and opera arias
Performer:Nicole Car s, Australian Chamber Orchestra/Richard Tognetti
Catalogue Number: ABC Classics 4817431