ALBUM TITLE: Pumeza Matshikiza
WORKS: Arias by Puccini, Catalani, Dvorák, Ravel, Montsalvatge, Fauré, Hahn, Sarti, Mozart, Gluck, Purcell, etc
PERFORMER: Pumeza Matshikiza (soprano); Aarhus Symphoniorkester/Tobias Ringborg
CATALOGUE NO: 478 8964
The lambent, copper-toned voice that caught people’s ears when in 2006 Pumeza Matshikiza sang the role of Concepçion in Ravel’s L’heure espagnole at the Royal College of Music has matured without losing focus or individuality. It’s a treat to hear her reprise an excerpt here, but her second recital album lacks coherence, swerving between verismo arias, mélodies, and lollipops by Montsalvatge, Sarti and Yradier. While Matshikiza’s fresh, even, iridescent tone is ideally weighted for Puccini’s Mimi and Liù, her Suor Angelica lacks edge. Rusalka’s Song to the Moon is glorious but would she make it all the way through Act III?
Each number is lovely, taken on its own terms, but changes in period and style barely register in the playing of the Aarhus Symfoniorkester under Tobias Ringborg. The recorded sound has a shrink-wrapped, airless quality. Fauré’s ‘Aprés un rêve’ and Hahn’s ‘A Chloris’ are served in butterscotch orchestrations, with twinklings and sprinklings of harp and woodwind that smother the grace of the original material. Where Matshikiza springs to life as an artist is in the Ravel, Mozart, Gluck and Purcell; delivering animated, sophisticated accounts of Susanna’s ‘Giunse alfin… Deh vieni’ and Euridice’s ‘Che fiero momento’, and a gravely beautiful ‘When I am laid in earth’.