This Heart That Flutters
‘Bel canto tenor’ really defines little more than a tenor specialising in this repertoire, from Pavarotti-type powerhouses to ethereal tenore buffo. Lawrence Brownlee, much heralded young US artist, falls somewhere in between, as this assemblage of London recitals suggests.
Although his opening spiritual Deep River reveals a pallid, slightly bleating tone, and his Duparc songs lack French ardour, he soon summons more bite for the Liszt. Then he attacks the notorious Fille du regiment aria, with its fearful stream of high Cs, in full flight. If he sounds more effortful than Pavarotti here, it’s still impressive, and he does even better with the slightly more reasonable Rossini aria (‘Tu seconda il mio disegno’), bright and poised in his coloratura, yet honeyed in tone and passionately felt. Iain Burnside accompanies valiantly, but the latter pieces lose something without the orchestra. The Ginastera songs that follow, though, are less familiar and quite haunting. Sometimes I feel like a motherless child, however, once again sounds rather bloodless.
Brownlee doesn’t have anything like the deceptive lyrical ease of Pavarotti, and he could use something more of Alfredo Kraus’s poise and grace; but his considerable technical elegance and attractive tone make him a must-hear for bel canto admirers.
Michael Scott Rohan