COMPOSERS: Fauré; Hahn; Head; Rossini; Handel
LABELS: Wigmore Hall
ALBUM TITLE: Jorce Didonato
WORKS: Songs and Arias
PERFORMER: Joyce DiDonato (mezzo-soprano)Julius Drake (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: WH Live 0009
Joyce DiDonato’s lyric mezzo, with its bright top and feisty lower chest register, is the ideal guide for a musical journey through Venice – and this was a shrewd choice for her Wigmore debut recital last January, now documented on the ever-delightful Wigmore Hall Live label. Julius Drake woos us in with the dappled light of his gently seductive piano playing. But, before we know it, it’s the fears and the excitement rising with the tide which we’re experiencing in the fast, highly-charged vibrato of DiDonato for Rossini’s Le regata veneziana. In marked contrast, the languid ecstasy and mystic barcarolles of Fauré’s Verlaine settings reveal DiDonato’s verbal and musical fluency in the French language. And, in between, the city and its tides of life become an image of mortality itself in Michael Head’s 1976 Songs of Venice, dedicated to Janet Baker, and most sensitively performed by both DiDonato and Drake in their subtle English word-setting. Reynaldo Hahn’s Venezia, including Drake’s own irresistible arrangement of ‘La primavera’, lead inevitably to two encores, one by Handel and one by Rossini, and both playing to DiDonato’s coloratura prowess.