WORKS: Songs and arias by Handel, Mozart, Puccini, Verdi, Dvorák, Charpentier, Duparc & Strauss
PERFORMER: Amanda Roocroft (soprano)London Philharmonic/Franz Welser-Möst
CATALOGUE NO: 5 55090 2 DDD
A two-star rating may seem strangely low for a singer of the accomplishment of Amanda Roocroft. But that is exactly the point. More than muscle, reliability and homogenised orchestral playing is expected, and more is simply not given. Within this collection of chocolate-coated lollipops, the range of repertoire is attractively wide: the interpretative range is less so. Roocroft sings every track, from Handel’s ‘Let the Bright Seraphim’ to Duparc’s ‘Chanson triste’ with equal, unflagging confidence, and with uniform strength of projection.
Beyond this, there is little play of the imagination, little sense of nuancing, of distinctive stylistic profile on the part of either singer or orchestra. In Mozart, the voice stuns rather than seduces; in Puccini it is steered fearlessly around the lush orchestral playing. Welser-Möst is content to create very much the same sound-world for Verdi as for Puccini: the ‘Ave Maria’ from Otello, like the ‘Song to the Moon’ from Rusalka, is a passionate invocation which fails nevertheless to create a single frisson in the listener.
Does anyone concerned, I wonder, even know the story of Dvorák’s opera? Charpentier and Strauss are given similar high-gloss treatment in a recording acoustic in which the voice lacks real defining presence and immediacy. Hilary Finch