The Barber of Seville Overture; Cessa di più resistere
L’elisir d’amore Una furtiva lagrima
La fille du régiment Ah! mes amis
Nights in the Gardens of Spain
Menéndez & Utrera, arr. Peña
Aquellos ojos verdes
Monge, arr. Peña
The Three-Cornered Hat Suite No.2
Gardel & Le Pera, arr. Guinovart
El dia que me quieras
Grever, arr. Guinovart
Juan Diego Flórez (tenor)
Artur Pizarro (piano)
BBC Concert Orchestra
Reviewed by: Alan Pickering
Reviewed: 25 July, 2006
Venue: Royal Albert Hall, London
A very warm evening, which was perhaps unfortunate as the programme was, to say the least, full – perhaps too full for total enjoyment. It was a first at the Proms for the Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Flórez and the last appearance by Barry Wordsworth as Principal Conductor of the BBC Concert Orchestra, a post he has held for 17 years; he now becomes the BBCCO’s Conductor Laureate.
The evening had a distinct ‘Latin’ flavour, appropriate given the soaring summer temperatures, but which was something of a ‘tour de force’ for both musicians and audience given the heat inside the auditorium. The overture to Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville” provided a very pleasant opening with good horn and woodwind solos and a very spirited performance overall. Count Almaviva’s aria proved less satisfying. There is no denying that Flórez has a wonderful voice, but it is not the most powerful and sometimes lacked a little in penetration. By contrast his rendition of “Una furtiva lagrima” was wonderful, displaying the full range of his voice to great effect and wholly captivating. The Intermezzo from Granados’s opera “Goyescas” was superb; very evocative with wonderfully lyrical passages and superbly performed. Donizetti’s “Ah! mes amis” showed Flórez at perhaps his best for the evening. Whilst he did not give a convincing display of a soldier off to join his regiment to fight for his country his voice was exemplary and he reached the higher ranges with ease – quite spectacular. The orchestra was a wonderful complement to the singing.
Manuel de Falla’s Nights in the Gardens of Spain started lively enough with a lovely and picturesque first movement, the orchestra and Artur Pizarro combining excellently. The second and third movements were, by contrast, not so fluid; perhaps it was the Moorish influence in the second and the Romany traditions in the finale; perhaps it was that the piece is simply too long for its material. That said, Pizarro’s playing was exemplary albeit lacking a little in passion.
Following the welcome interval the evening continued with the first two of four Latin-American popular songs. These well-crafted melodies were performed with a certain degree of style and beautifully sung, although Flórez did not display the anticipated ardour; “México lindo” proved an especially lovely piece. Three dances from Falla’s The Three-Cornered Hat were again well played: ‘The Neighbour’s Dance’ was light and airy; ‘The Miller’s Dance’ displayed more intrigue (reflecting the story at this point); and ‘Final Dance’ had drive and colour.
The other two Latin-American songs followed, both concerning love and with some unexpected lyrics – references to a “nest in your hair” and a curious glow-worm who’ll ”see you are my consolation”. (The original text may have suffered in the translation!) Chabrier’s masterly España saw the concert off in lively fashion.