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Beethoven • Verdi • Wagner (Lise Davidsen)

Lise Davidsen (soprano); London Philharmonic Orchestra/Mark Elder (Decca)

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

Beethoven • Verdi • Wagner
Beethoven: Ah! Perfido, Op. 65; Fidelio – Abscheulicher! Wo eilst du hin?; Cherubini: Medee – Dei tuoi figli la madre tu vedi; Mascagni: Cavalleria rusticana – Voi lo sapete o mamma; Verdi: La forza del destino – Pace, pace mio Dio!; Otello – Ave Maria; Wagner: Wesendonck-Lieder
Lise Davidsen (soprano); London Philharmonic Orchestra/Mark Elder
Decca 485 1507   63:28 mins


Norwegian soprano Lise Davidsen is the most exciting new operatic presence for at least a decade and already, at 33, has a large repertoire of demanding roles.

Her first solo recital album was greeted with universal praise, and I would be amazed if this one – much more demanding – isn’t given an even more ecstatic reception. She is, at present, a lyric soprano, but seems to be headed for the heroic – Wagnerian – repertoire. Her voice reminds me now of Birgit Nilsson’s at the same stage, an Elsa and Sieglinde who is a Brünnhilde in waiting, with the same thrilling edge to her top register, though she isn’t lacking in her lower notes either. As the Ave Maria from Verdi’s Otello makes clear, she can also scale her voice down, though that piece by itself, as it is here, without the ‘Willow Song’, is rather boring. What, of course, a recital disc of highlights can’t show is what a singer is like in a complete role – it really needs a disc of ‘lowlights’ to reveal such things.

As with Nilsson, the danger of having such a voice, to cut through or soar over a big orchestral sound, is that she can sound hard, and lacking in colour – as so many heroic sopranos do. Since there is a permanent shortage of them, she will no doubt be pushed into singing roles which she should resist while she sticks to the lyric repertoire. That is clear here, even with Mark Elder’s typically sympathetic conducting. But listening to this disc for its own sake, without speculating on what it portends, is a thrilling experience.

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Michael Tanner