Rossini: Arias and Overtures from Tancredi, Aureliano in Palmira, La donna del lago & Semiramide

COMPOSERS: Rossini
LABELS: Virgin
ALBUM TITLE: Rossini
WORKS: Arias and Overtures from Tancredi, Aureliano in Palmira, La donna del lago & Semiramide
PERFORMER: Max Emmanuel Cencic (countertenor); Ensemble Vocal Le Motete de Genève; Orchestre de chambre de Genève/Michael Hofstetter
CATALOGUE NO: 385 7882
A countertenor singing Rossini? It’s certainly a novelty. But this Baroque specialist singer has an impressive track record and in the event makes a fair success of it. He’s accurate, musical and technically accomplished, able to negotiate the fast passages of ‘Mura felici’ (from La donna del lago) with some brilliance. The tone is often pleasant, but there’s a more limited range of colour on display than one would get with a good mezzo-soprano as, say, Arsace in Semiramide. It’s also clearly not a big sound, though ‘Di tanti palpiti’ from Tancredi?> works well on disc. Whether the voice would carry and match with bigger-voiced principals in a large theatre is another matter. Diction is also at a premium.

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The orchestral accompaniments are not always as characterful as they deserve to be – the introduction to the Tancredi aria, an absolute gem in itself, is bland. There are no less than three overtures heard in between the arias. They are performed with some spirit but also with the odd instrumental mishap. One of them – that to Aureliano in Palmira – will be better known to Rossini fans as recycled for The Barber of Seville. George Hall,/i>