ALBUM TITLE: Sempre Libera
WORKS: Works by Donizetti, Gounod, Bellini, Bizet, Delibes, Puccini, Meyerbeer, Offenbach, Messager and Verdi
PERFORMER: Miah Persson (soprano); Swedish Radio Symphony Orhcestra/Daniel Harding
CATALOGUE NO: BIS-2112 (hybrid CD/SACD)
Miah Persson is a personable singer with a loyal following on both sides of the Atlantic. If the voice sometimes lacks weight, she is nimble in the early 19th-century repertoire. Indeed Juliet’s Act I number ‘Eccomi in lieta vesta … Oh! Quante volte’ from Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi is one of the better tracks on this new recital disc, with a well-judged final cadenza. Persson gets the character right too: a young woman overwhelmed by passion, but not for the man that she is about to marry.
Elsewhere it’s more about singing than character, though Persson does find an emotional depth in Michaela missed by other singers when she searches for Don José in the mountains in Act III of Carmen. And ‘Le jour sous le soleil béni’ from Messager’s Madame Chrysanthème whets the appetite for a deeply underrated composer. It might be kinder to remain silent about her ‘E strano, è strano … Sempre Libera’ from Verdi’s La traviata. Many sing the role of Violetta, but few have the measure of its vocal challenges. Daniel Harding and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra are genuine partners in this recital with some fine playing by the woodwind and a melting horn solo at the start of Bellini’s aria for Juliet. Christopher Cook