Bellini, Hummel, Mendelssohn, Garc’a, Halévy, Malibran, Pacini, Persiani and Rossi

COMPOSERS: Bellini,Garcia,Halévy,Hummel,Malibran,Mendelssohn,Pacini,Persiani and Rossi
LABELS: Decca
ALBUM TITLE: Maria
WORKS: Arias for Maria Malibran
PERFORMER: Cecilia Bartoli (mezzo-soprano), Maxim Vengerov (violin), Celoso Albelo (tenor), Luca Pisaroni (bass-baritone); International Chamber Soloists; Orchestra La Scintilla/Adam Fischer

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CATALOGUE NO: 475 9077

The first Maria that springs to the minds of opera lovers will be Callas, but Bartoli’s new collection is a tribute to an earlier singer: Maria Malibran. In her short life – she was born in Paris in 1808 and died in Manchester in 1836 – she reached the loftiest heights of stardom in the operatic world.

The repertoire has been cleverly assembled to reflect the various stages of Malibran’s career. There are items by her father, the tenor-composer Manuel García, who founded the singing dynasty of which she was the brightest star. There are extracts from now forgotten operas which she created, by Pacini, Persiani, Halévy (especially attractive) and Lauro Rossi, as well as a fun showpiece by Hummel and a more serious one by Mendelssohn, in which Maxim Vengerov plays the violin obbligato peerlessly. There are also a couple of skilful solos by Malibran herself. Equally important are the Bellini arias, usually sung by a soprano, but which Malibran despatched to everyone’s satisfaction, not least the composer’s.

Though Bartoli’s tone is more mature these days, she can get around all the notes and sings everything with vivid personality. The accompaniments are well handled under Adam Fischer.

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George Hall