ALBUM TITLE: Christine Brewer : Arias
WORKS: Arias by Mozart, Gluck, Weber, Sullivan, Kálmán, Rodgers,
Lehár, Rossini, Merrill, Beethoven
PERFORMER: Christine Brewer (soprano); with
Barry Banks, Janice Watson; Philharmonia Orchestra/David Parry
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 3127
The latest singer to offer a recital in the Chandos Opera in English series is an American soprano known for her prowess in Strauss and Wagner roles, and she duly begins with Elisabeth’s Greeting from Tannhäuser. Her bright and substantial tone cuts through the orchestral textures with ease, though her vowels are sometimes occluded. It’s in the pieces most requiring a sizeable instrument, indeed, that she impresses most. She blazes her way through most of Donna Anna’s ‘honour’ aria, though becomes imprecise, both as to pitch and rhythm, when the notes come thicker and faster.
It’s certainly a thrilling sound (try Gluck’s Alceste) and most of the fabled difficulties of Weber’s ‘Ocean! Thou mighty monster’ (composed to an English text) do not phase her. But she comes adrift in Rossini’s ‘Inflammatus’, where the top Cs are raw, and Kálmán’s showpiece for Countess Maritza finds her sounding effortful and rough around the edges. The grand American vernacular idiom of Carousel is suitably lavish, and the unusual Sullivan aria (from his dramatic cantata The Golden Legend) is striking, if sluggishly conducted by David Parry; elsewhere his contribution is reliable if not always spirited. A mixed bag overall. George Hall