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Puccini: Il Tabarro

Melody Moore, et al; MDR Leipzig Radio Choir; Dresden Philharmonic/Marek Janowski (Pentatone)

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

Il Tabarro
Melody Moore, Lester Lynch, Brian Jagde, Roxana Constantinescu, Joanne Marie D’Mello, Yongkeun Kim, Martin-Jan Nijhof; MDR Leipzig Radio Choir; Dresden Philharmonic/Marek Janowski
Pentatone PTC 5186 773 (CD/SACD)   49:42 mins

The first panel of Puccini’s Trittico (or Triptych, New York, 1918), Il tabarro (The Cloak) sits near to the heart of the verismoaesthetic and perhaps represents his darkest operatic statement. With its subtle harmonic and colouristic palettes deployed in an almost Impressionistic manner, the score also offers evidence of his mature style’s complete mastery: on and offstage effects are plentiful and imaginative, themselves providing a kind of sonic realism with their siren, bugle and car horns.

In this studio recording, the three central roles go well together, though without being strikingly individual. Lester Lynch is firm and authoritative as the barge-owner Michele, his clipped delivery and heavy presence marking out the character’s despondent soul.  Given a nervous, insecure reading by Melody Moore, Michele’s wife Giorgetta no longer loves him and has moved on to young stevedore Luigi, whose bitterness at his downtrodden condition finds forceful expression in Brian Jagde’s taut interpretation; in their best moments both Moore and Jagde find the expansiveness to allow Puccini’s phrases to lift into the air.

Smaller roles are all vital and impressively characterised, notably Roxana Constantinescu’s vivid ragpicker la Frugola – a game old bird – as well as in the ironic emotional counterpoint of the two young lovers (Joanne Marie D’Mello and Yongkeun Kim). The Leipzig choir and Dresden orchestra make strong contributions, yet while the ebb and flow in tension of a score full of musical and emotional ambiguity are carefully conveyed by conductor Marek Janowski, the result ultimately feels somewhat contained.

George Hall

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