Delibes, Gounod, Puccini, Lehár, Luna, López, Canteloube & Villa-Lobos

Our rating 
2.0 out of 5 star rating 2.0

COMPOSERS: Canteloube & Villa-Lobos,Delibes,Gounod,Lehar,López,Luna,Puccini
LABELS: Naxos
ALBUM TITLE: Soprano Songs and Arias
WORKS: Various
PERFORMER: Ana María Martínez (soprano); Prague Philharmonia/Steven Mercurio
CATALOGUE NO: 8.557827

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Ana María Martínez is the Puerto Rican lyric soprano with the wide dramatic range: anything from Albéniz’s Merlin to Glass’s La Belle et la Bête seems to be in her portfolio. Despite the Prague venue of this recording, made nearly six years ago, the geographical frame of reference is clearly Hispanic.

The disc starts with a click of the castanets and a jingle of the tambourine in Delibes’ ‘Les filles de Cadix’, and ends with the sensuous vocalise of the Aria-Cantilena from Villa-Lobos’ Bachianas Brasileiras. This Hispanic frame is the glory of this recording. What it contains is rather less impressive. Martínez’s agile, dancing soprano brings a gentle beauty to the canary-fancier repertoire, though her Gounod Juliette, her Puccini ‘babbino caro’ and her Lehár ‘Vilja-Lied’ are as laid-back and characterless as the all-purpose, soft-focus accompanying of the Prague Philharmonia under Steven Mercurio.

The two zarzuela-type ditties by Pablo Luna and Francis Lopez need more hard-working charm to make them more than pot-boilers. However, it wasn’t until Martínez’s performance of Canteloube’s ‘Bailero’ that the third star fell away: altogether too little colour and imagination within the vocalising here.

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Hilary Finch