Sinful Women

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Cherubini,Massenet Saint-Saëns,Strauss and Mariotte,Stravinsky,Wagner
LABELS: Supraphon
ALBUM TITLE: Sinful Women
WORKS: Works by Massenet, Saint-Saëns, Stravinsky, Cherubini, Wagner, Strauss and Mariotte
PERFORMER: Dagmar Pecková (mezzo-soprano); Ivana Veberová (soprano), Peter Mikulás (bass); Slovak Philharmonic Chorus; Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra/Aleksander Markovic´
CATALOGUE NO: SU 4181-2

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Throughout a stellar career – literally: she has an asteroid named after her – Czech mezzo Dagmar Pecková’s voice has evolved from strong and stylish Mozartian into a richly powerful instrument whose darkly sensuous hues are ideally suited to the lusher late Romantics. This album ranges from Wagner and Strauss to French coevals such as Massenet, and, from earlier and later, Cherubini and Stravinsky, their anti-heroines linked by themes of sin and forgiveness – the latter, as Massenet’s verbose Mary Magdalene demonstrates, usually less interesting. Pecková, singing decent French, makes it easy on the ears at least, as she also does with Mariotte’s Salome, contemporary with Strauss’s, more elegantly Wildean but far less powerful. The less flowing lines of Stravinsky’s Jocasta expose a distinct beat in the voice, and Wagner’s Kundry some squally moments under pressure. Medea’s aria (Cherubini), though, is amply passionate, but suffers from cloudy, unfocused tone and unsteadiness. As Massenet’s Hérodiade and in particular Saint-Saëns’s Delilah Pecková is seriously seductive, but her hollow-toned, haunting Klytaemnestra is the finest performance here.

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Conductor Aleksandar Markovic and the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra provide much more than routine accompaniments, and his orchestral interludes are notably dynamic and fresh. Less impressive are the booklet’s superficial and poorly translated notes, and images of Pecková got up as 1950s Hollywood-style temptresses – pomegranates and all… Michael Scott Rohan