Rossini: Soirées Musicales

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COMPOSERS: Rossini
LABELS: Hyperion
ALBUM TITLE: Rossini
WORKS: Soirées Musicales: Songs and duets
PERFORMER: Miah Persson (soprano), Stella Douffexis (mezzo-soprano), Bruce Ford (tenor), Roger Vignoles (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 67647

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Whatever else Rossini abandoned when he retired from writing for the stage in 1829 it wasn’t his ear for the dramatic. Nor did he forbid himself a sharp eye for character. Here are the pleasures and the virtues of Péchés de vieillesse and before them the songs in Soirées musicales. La regata veneziana, with the girls hoping that the boys won’t overdo the rowing to the detriment of their later performances, is a knowing little drama, while the sour sweet melody for Adieux à la vie! hints, perhaps, at dramatic self-pity. Though Bruce Ford tends these days to rely on artistry rather than the quality of his bel canto, and though there’s a reedy timbre to the mezzo Stella Doufexis’s tone, on the other hand Miah Persson is everything that Rossini deserves in this repertoire. The sudden musical and dramatic change in the closing pages of Mi lagnerò tacendo are touchingly done and La promessa is indeed crammed with promise in every sense of the word. As ever, Roger Vignoles is an assiduous partner to his singers. Christopher Cook