Julia Lezhneva

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Vivaldi; Handel; Porpora; Mozart
LABELS: Decca
ALBUM TITLE: Julia Lezhneva
WORKS: Vivaldi: In furore, RV626; Handel: Saeviat tellus inter rigores, HWV240; Porpora: In caelo stele clare fulgescant; Mozart: Exsultate, jubilate
PERFORMER: Julia Lezhneva (soprano); Il Gardino Armonico/Giovanni Antonini
CATALOGUE NO: 4785242

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The Russian soprano’s collection focuses on the Latin solo motet, offering four examples, one of them the most familiar of all – Mozart’s Exsultate, jubilate, written in Milan when the composer was just 16. Julia Lezhneva is at her most accomplished here, providing spirited and focused vocalism, running up and down the scales with effortless abandon and to fine effect.

Elsewhere there are occasional deficiencies, including high notes sometimes slightly wide of the mark, and a broader inattention to diction; consonants come close to disappearing at times, robbing the line of clear definition and reducing the text’s impact. At its worst, the result can be a little bland.

Yet the precision and determination Lezhneva brings to Vivaldi’s In furore, notably in the opening aria depicting divine wrath, is remarkable, even if her ethereal tone in the slow aria borders on the chilly and one or two of her rivals leave her behind in terms of expressive energy. Here and throughout the period-instrument orchestra sounds feisty under Giovanni Antonini.

That Lezhneva can tackle slow arias more impressively is revealed in Nicola Porpora’s In caelo stele clare fulgescant, her graceful, measured singing highlighted by nicely managed trills in a rarity offering considerable charm.

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George Hall