ROSSINI: Arias. Katia Ricciarelli, soprano; Lyon Opera Chorus & Orchestra, Gabriele Ferro conducting. Virgin Classics VC7-91484-2 .
While not as all-consuming as last year's Mozart Bicentennial, this year's 100th anniversary of Rossini's death is sure to bring forth a spate of that master's florid masterpieces. (Utah Opera has planned his "La Cenerentola" in May.)Katia Ricciarelli, a soprano who began her career as a dramatic soprano, in somewhat over her depth, has found her way back to the lighter and purer demands of coloratura. If she had begun in this way, her career might have flourished better; and her present coloratura shows the sometimes shaky legacy of oversinging and pushing.
Nonetheless, this recording has plenty of fine moments for a full, dramatic voice being disciplined to pure technique. Perhaps her finest moment is in the Romanza, Scene and Cavatina from "Otello" - luscious, expressive music and singing that make one wish to hear the whole work. Almost as good is Matilde's big aria from "William Tell." Further blockbusters are from "The Seige of Corinth," "Bianca et Faliero," and "Semiramide."
THE GIRL WITH ORANGE LIPS. Songs of Ravel, Stravinsky, Kim & Delage. Dawn Upshaw, soprano; Chamber Ensemble. Elektra Nonesuch 9-79262-2 .
Though best known as an operatic soprano, Dawn Upshaw is a singer whose fach defies classification; hence her presentation of these songs accords well with her unlimited, clear voice and her independent artistry.
It's faintly ridiculous to call songs written early in the century avant garde; let's just say that most of those included here sound far from any beaten path or neat enclosure. The flavor is Gallic in these strange, poetic vignettes, each of which Upshaw makes ecstatic in its own way.
Perhaps best known are Ravel's "Three Poems of Stephane Mallarme," in which singer and composer both apprehend the delicate poesy of almost incomprehensible lyrics, producing
RECORD subtle colorations that richly evoke the poet's fantasies.
Earl Kim's cycle, "Where Grief Slumbers," shows an adventurous musical mind, fond of experimentation, and an arresting, unconventional lyric gift. Poems of Appollinaire and Rimbaud are haunting, especially in "Ophelia" and "The Girl With Orange Lips," sung in English.
In Stravinsky's "Three Japanese Lyrics" and two poems of Bal'mont, Upshaw clearly delineates each chiseled poetic moment. In "Four Hindu Poems," composed by Ravel's pupil, Maurice Delage, the soprano celebrates four Indian cities, with Oriental music influences.
VINSON COLE. Songs of Strauss, Duparc, Puccini & Nin. Vinson Cole, tenor; Patrick Stephens, piano. Connoisseur Society CD-4184 .
Vinson Cole could thaw an icicle with the first melting strains of Richard Strauss's "Liebeshymnus," showing off a tone that at its best is among the most ingratiating before the public today.
None of Cole's recital is unfamiliar, and all of it is beautiful. From Strauss comes "Morgen" and "Zueignung," whose justification for inclusion is that he sings them better here than most anyone else. Among songs of the melodious Puccini is "Sole e amore," and "Menta l'avviso," studies for "La Boheme" and "Manon Lescaut" respectively.
Spirituals suffer somewhat from being strangely geared down from exuberance to art song dignity, but four little love songs delightfully reflect the classic simplicity of the Cuban composer Joaquin Nin. Songs of Duparc, Bellini and Refice complete the disk.
- ADMIRERS OF THE LATE, GREAT Jan DeGaetani may want to add one or both re-releases of her Lieder recordings. On Electra Nonesuch 9-71364-2 the mezzo soprano sings duets by Schumann with baritone Leslie Guinn. On the same label, 9-79263-2, is a mix of familiar and unfamiliar Schubert, followed by songs from the Spanisches Liederbuch by Hugo Wolf. Gilbert Kalish is the expert pianist in both recordings.