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French Arias

Petr Nekoranec (tenor); Zuzana Markova (soprano); Czech Philharmonic/Christopher Franklin (Supraphon)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

French Arias
Tenor Arias by Massenet, Offenbach, Gounod, Donizetti, Bizet, Berlioz, Delibes and Lalo
Petr Nekoranec (tenor); Zuzana Markova (soprano); Czech Philharmonic/Christopher Franklin
Supraphon SU-4260-2   56.39 mins

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Petr Nekoranec has previously appeared on a disc of Dvořák’s Moravian duets (with two other singers) and in the Stuttgart opera house singing works by Rossini and Donizetti. So this sudden jump into French operatic repertory on his debut solo album is a bit of a surprise. His relatively light, clear tenor voice with a hint of bravura suits the livelier pieces well. In Donizetti’s ‘Ah! Mes amis’ (La fille du régiment), for example, both he and the orchestra easily negotiate the mercurial changes of phrasing and he makes short shrift of the nine top Cs. Similarly in Offenbach’s ‘Au mont Ida’ (La belle Hélène) there is the same quicksilver response to changes of focus by the character (Pâris).

The more languorous pieces fare slightly less well. In a work such as Gounod’s ‘Demeure, chaste et pure’ (Faust) Nekoranec’s wonderful vocal lyricism adapts easily enough to the general fluidity and contours of the melody, but there seems to be only a modicum of inner feeling; and in the Massenet arias (from Werther and Manon) the carefully placed tenuto stresses are largely ignored and each note comes out rather solidly with the same weight and import. That said, he produces something magical in Bizet’s ‘Je crois entendre encore’ (Les pêcheurs) where he performs with remarkable tenderness and subtle phrasing.

None of the aria texts is given in the booklet, though a five-page account of the singer and his thoughts appears successively in English, German, French and Czech.

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Anthony Pryer