Serate Musicali – Rossini

La promessa
Il rimprovero
Mi lagnerò tacendo
Ave Maria su due sole note
La chanson du bébé
L’orpheline du Tyrol
Adieux á la vie
Les amants de Séville
La pesca
La partenza
La pastorella dell’Alpi
La danza
La regata veneziana – La serenata; La gita in gondola; La regata veneziana

Miah Persson (soprano), Stella Doufexis (mezzo-soprano), Bruce Ford (tenor) & Roger Vignoles (piano)

Reviewed by: John T. Hughes

Reviewed: 16 April, 2007
Venue: Southbank Centre, London – Queen Elizabeth Hall

A piece which restricts the singer to just two notes may make one think that the short range of “pop” songs is positively extensive in comparison, but Rossini’s “Ave Maria su due sole note” places the tunes in the piano part. At this recital of Rossini songs, Stella Doufexis performed the two notes while Roger Vignoles dispensed the melodies. The variety in that vocal line is, however, 100 percent greater than that in “Adieux á la vie”, in which the singer is limited to only one note and the piano again has the “fun”. Miah Persson was the single-note supplier.

Fortunately, both ladies had more notes to sing in their other assignments, with Doufexis taking the “big” item, the tripartite “La regata veneziana”. Its three songs tell of Anzaleta’s encouragement of her darling Momolo as he rows his gondola in the race. (Please don’t tell me that one does not row a gondola; I’m using the translation in the programme.) Of course, Momolo wins. Doufexis has a warm, evenly produced high mezzo, softish in texture: not the voice of an Azucena or Amneris. She conveyed the eagerness and eventual satisfaction of the young woman. In contrasting mood, she presented a sympathetic picture of the poor child begging for food in “L’orpheline du Tyrol”, and her rounded tone in “Il rimprovero” was pleasurable in itself. With Vignoles playing little arpeggios in gentle Spanish rhythm of “Les amants de Séville”, she and Bruce Ford complemented each other tonally as the couple declare their love: an attractive duet delightfully performed by the three artists.

Miah Persson brought soprano lyricism and a lively personality, catching the humour of “La chanson du bébé”. To the bolero of “L’invito” she brought fresh tone and light touch, while in “La pastorella dell’ Alpi” she moved with sprightly step. Apparently, this concert was her first venture into Rossini. One hopes it will set a precedent. Her light but far from shallow voice was suited to her songs. There is a warmth in her middle register, enabling her to meld with Doufexis in the duets “La pesca” and “La regata veneziana”, this latter bearing the same title as the little cycle.

Ford made effective use of head-voice, as always, employing it with much sensitivity. “L’esule” benefited from this approach, as the singer tells of the beauties of the place in which he finds himself but adds the proviso that “this soil is not my country” as he longs for the Ligurian coast. Ford preceded it with the far different “L’orgia”, celebrating love and wine. To the sad “La partenza” he brought stylish phrasing and an inward sadness, again with skilful use of head-voice, and shaded his tone to fine effect in the barcarolle “La gita in gondola”.

These songs do not, of course, rival Rossini’s big operatic arias but have a charm of their own. Vignoles was fully responsive to the varied accompaniments, and each of the singers produced vocal delights to make a most pleasing evening.

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