Tenor arias by Puccini, Cilea, Mascagni, Giordano and Leoncavallo
Piotr Beczala (tenor); Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana/Marco Boemi
Pentatone PTC 5186 733 52:56 mins
The Polish-born tenor Piotr Beczala may have shaken the dust of La Scala from his boots after quarrelling with the loggionista in 2013, but this stylish Verdian is much admired in galleries elsewhere. Now he says he’s ready to embrace Puccini and that clutch of Italian composers who we lazily label Verismo.
As a ‘calling card’ album the repertoire is exactly what you would expect with arias from Tosca to Adriana via Cavalleria Rusticana and Andrea Chénier. Naturally we end where all tenors have to end nowadays with ‘Nessun Dorma’.
This is a big voice with a seemingly warm Italianate tone and a fitting sense of the legato required for this repertoire. Verismo sobbing is kept to a minimum. Beczala knows exactly how to build the drama of an aria, as befits a pupil of Sena Jurinac. So ‘Donna non vidi mai’ from Puccini’s Manon Lescaut is shaped as a single vocal arch and Chénier’s ‘Un dì all’azzuro spazio’ curls its way around Giordano’s winning melody ending with a properly dramatic climax.
One can only regret that Pentatone didn’t find a better orchestra, and a conductor with an instinct for this repertoire. Too often Marco Boemi fails to coax the Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana into matching their distinguished soloist.