WORKS: Songs: Vaga luna che inargenti; Quando incise sul quel marmo; L’abbandono
PERFORMER: Dennis O’Neill (tenor)Ingrid Surgenor (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 15072
Here are 16 of Vincenzo Bellini’s twenty or more songs for voice and piano, produced at various times throughout his short life. The earliest, ‘La farfalletta’ – said to have been written at the age of 12 for a childhood sweetheart – is both lively and charming in its polonaise rhythm, but Bellini’s melodic gift had not yet blossomed into its unique individuality. In ‘Quando incise sul quel marmo’ – a scena and aria composed during his student years – the influence of Rossini is apparent. Most of the other songs are mature examples of Bellini’s elegant and expressive melody, especially ‘Vaga luna che inargenti’ and the Chopinesque ‘L’abbandono’.
As Britain’s most Italianate lyric tenor, Dennis O’Neill has a warm vocal quality and pure legato which are heard at their best in the Italian composers of the early 19th century. He and his reliable accompanist make this a disc to be enjoyed by all lovers of bel canto, perhaps most of all in ‘La ricordanza’ – whose languid melody Bellini was to use again in I puritani for Elvira’s ‘Qui la voce’.
Incidentally, the disc is described as Volume 1 of a series which will continue with the songs of Donizetti and Verdi. Why not Rossini as well? Charles Osborne