WORKS: Arias and extracts from La donna del lago, Guillaume Tell, Semiramide, Otello, L’assedio di Corinto & La Cenerentola
PERFORMER: Julia Lezhneva (soprano); Sinfonia Varsovia/Marc Minkowski
CATALOGUE NO: V5221
With few exceptions – the mezzo Zara Dolukhanova made some legendary recordings of his music – Russian singers have rarely specialised in Rossini. This recital by the 21-year-old soprano shows her putting herself through her paces in repertoire mostly conceived for a mezzo, or even contralto voice, with an upper extension. Julia Lezhneva offers instead a soprano voice, even throughout the compass, but with no strong lower extension. For many of the arias on the disc, it’s less than an ideal instrument.
Yet there is real flair and talent here, with much of the coloratura neatly despatched, and some stylistic grace that is admirable. If only she were more consistent, and clearer in her linguistic skills she could go far. As it is, I’m not convinced Rossini is really her thing. The choral singing is on the rough and ready side, but Marc Minkowski and his Polish musicians are marvellous, especially in a knockout account of the Cenerentola overture. George Hall