Bellini: Songs: Vaga luna che inargenti; Quando incise sul quel marmo; L’abbandono

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COMPOSERS: Bellini
LABELS: Collins
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’.

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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’.

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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