À Chloris; L’Heure exquise; Le Printemps; Si mes vers avaient des ailes; Le Rossignol des lilas; L’Énamourée
Canciones clásicas españolas [selections]
Manon – Je suis encor tout étourdie; Adieu, notre petite table
Poema en forma de canciones
Poème d’un jour
Siete canciones populares españolas
Ailyn Pérez (soprano) & Iain Burnside (piano)
Recorded 14-16 June 2010 in All Saints, East Finchley, London (except Massenet: recorded on 7 March 2012 at St John’s, Smith Square, London)
Reviewed by: Mark Valencia
Reviewed: August 2013
CD No: OPUS ARTE
OA CD9013 D
Duration: 66 minutes
The problem with reviewing this enchanting release (playing for nearly two minutes shorter than stated), one of three initially produced by Opus Arte under the auspices of Rosenblatt Recitals (Lawrence Brownlee and Anthony Michaels-Moore supply the others), has been that of self-discipline. Every time the disc goes in the player and Ailyn Pérez and Iain Burnside launch into their deftly-chosen programme of French and Spanish songs, pen and paper are soon set aside in favour of closed eyes and a smile of pleasure.
Pérez is blest with a voice for all seasons: clear, unmannered and well supported across her entire range. She is known for her Verdi roles (Violetta at the Royal Opera; Alice Ford at Glyndebourne) and the young American soprano’s command of these French and Spanish songs reveal her comfort and superb technique in a very different field of repertoire.
Pérez is wholly at ease with the Spanish material and I imagine the advantage of a pertinent family background (she is of second-generation Mexican descent) has something to do with her command of that language – although ironically, it was her wordless singing midway through ‘Del cabello mas sutil’ from the Canciones clásicas españolas by the Catalan composer Fernando Obradors (1897-1945) that melted me most. This is an irresistible cycle of seven Iberian songs that closes on a charming slice of comedy, ‘Chiquitita la novia’ (Tiny is the bride), a sweet song about a diminutive bride and groom on their wedding night. Pérez exudes wit in her affectionate account, as does her equally good-humoured and elegant accompanist (and the project’s accredited artistic consultant), Iain Burnside.
My sole reservation about this transcendent recital concerns Pérez’s French pronunciation in the mélodies. It is idiomatic and delicate but not wholly devoid of diphthongs, and the flattening of vowels is a flaw that particularly affects the trio of songs by Fauré that give the album its title. This composer’s verse settings are so subtle that the correct articulation of words is a sine qua non – it’s part and parcel of the music. Curiously, this worry was less in evidence during the pair of arias from Massenet’s Manon (superbly communicative accounts that were captured live, unlike the rest of this otherwise studio-originated disc, at a 2012 Rosenblatt recital) and from a delicious half-dozen songs by Reynaldo Hahn.
Nothing should detract from the disc’s florilegium of delights, however. It is an adorable, joyful recital that’s been treated to an exemplary recording by Jonathan Allen and Simon Weir, and the listener is left enraptured by one of the foremost emerging talents of our time.