Puccini, Gershwin, Verdi Leh‡r, Rossini, Villa-Lobos, Handel, Mozart, Gounod, Franck, Bach, Darke & Rutter

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Bach,Darke & Rutter,Franck,Gershwin,Gounod,Handel,Mozart,Puccini,Rossini,Verdi Lehár,Villa-Lobos
ALBUM TITLE: Denise Leigh: Pie Jesu
WORKS: Arias and songs by Puccini, Gershwin, Verdi Lehár, Rossini, Villa-Lobos, Handel, Mozart, Gounod, Franck, Bach, Darke & Rutter
PERFORMER: Denise Leigh (soprano); Slovak RSO/Leo Siberski
CATALOGUE NO: 5 57866 2
The two joint winners of the Channel 4/ENO 2003 Operatunity competition are heard here in wide-ranging light classical collections. Each possesses a fluent, high-quality soprano, each is musical, and each demonstrates some artistic personality in her singing. But they are not an identical pair. Gilchrist has the more substantial voice, a light-lyric to Leigh’s essentially light soprano. The tone is fresh and confident, with a pearly sheen, and her intonation and musical sensitivity are both impressive. There’s a still, quiet authority to her singing that sees her score highly in her ethereal performance of Rachmaninov’s Vocalise, offer some nuance in Handel’s ‘Lascia ch’io pianga’ and deliver Orff’s ‘In trutina’ with charm. But the Carmen extract is dramatically a sketch and in any case lies low for her. Leigh is hampered by a less dynamic conductor, who allows the sequence of slow numbers that begins her CD to get stuck in the groove. Elsewhere, there are Achilles’s heels in the sketchier moments of ‘Rejoice greatly’, the lack of a trill and some moments of raw tone. On the other hand, her top is fearless. She seems generally best suited to Baroque and Classical repertory, though the ‘Pie Jesu’ from the Rutter Requiem is really wonderful. It’s going to be interesting to see how they develop. Let’s hope they don’t just tread the crossover route. But if they do, Lesley Garrett is going to have to look to her laurels. George Hall