COMPOSERS: Boito and Wagner,Gounod,Mozart,Rossini,Tchaikovsky
ALBUM TITLE: Jonathan Lemalu
PERFORMER: Johnathan Lemalu, New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, James Judd
CATALOGUE NO: 557 6052
Zealand bass-baritone has already sung on stage five of the roles sampled here, including Papageno at Glyndebourne, which registers as the most thoroughly thought out. In some of the others there’s insufficient definition of character – Leporello, Basilio and Bartolo sound pretty much alike, and he’s a long way as yet from a full realisation of the rich possibilities of Falstaff or the Dutchman.
In addition, some of the roles that ideally require a full-scale bass timbre – Prince Gremin, Basilio and the two Mephistos (Gounod’s and Boito’s) – sound too lightweight. It’s not a matter of the notes – Lemalu has them all – but of vocal colour. That said, he proves an appreciable and immediate musician, with a strong ability to communicate, and his Italian is clear and expressive. On the evidence here, he has some distance to go, but he clearly has the potential to become an outstanding artist.
He is given skilful accompaniment by the New Zealand Symphony under James Judd, though the sound could do with a hint more separation. George Hall