ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Great Operatic Arias, Vol. 6
WORKS: Arias & duets
PERFORMER: John Tomlinson (bass), HelenWilliams (soprano), Barry Banks (tenor), Andrew Shore (baritone); Geoffrey Mitchell Choir, Philharmonia Orchestra/David Parry
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 3044
John Tomlinson is one of the finest singing actors on the opera scene today. He is unsurpassed in Wagner, but here he displays his versatility and his exemplary diction in a highly eclectic programme of arias in English ranging from Handel and Mozart to Offenbach and G&S. In the opening number, Handel’s ebullient ‘O ruddier than the cherry’, he certainly equals those vintage performances on 78rpm discs by Malcolm McEachern and Peter Dawson, and he is a splendidly fierce Osmin in Mozart’s Abduction from the Seraglio (with Helen Williams an engaging Blonde and Barry Banks a lively Pedrillo in two duets).
In Russian arias by Mussorgsky, Borodin and Dargomizhsky, he is equally impressive, and most of all in the two Verdi items. Fiesco is characterised gravely in his recitative and aria, whose moving orchestral postlude is most affectingly played by the Philharmonia.
The lighter pieces come off equally well, especially Offenbach’s Gendarmes’ Duet (with Andrew Shore) and the Policeman’s Song from The Pirates of Penzance. The one non-theatrical item on the disc is the charming and once popular ballad ‘Myself When Young’ by Liza Lehmann, which was much recorded in the days of 78s by famous baritones and basses, with none of whom John Tomlinson need fear comparison. Charles Osborne