Classical reviews


> Homage to Maria Callas. Angela Gheorghiu (soprano). Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. EMI CD.

Homage to Maria Callas. Angela  Gheorghiu (soprano). Royal  Philharmonic Orchestra. EMI CD.
Homage to Maria Callas. Angela Gheorghiu (soprano). Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. EMI CD.
Thrilling singing in Gheorghiu's first studio recording for six years, when she has been in several complete operas including an award-winning Madame Butterfly. Accompanied by the RPO under Marco Armillato, she pays "homage" to Callas, who shared the same record company 50 years earlier.

Opera buffs might be uneasy with the 11 arias chosen as "shared favourites" of the divas. Angela is a lyric singer, with darker shadings, without such glorious top notes as Callas.

Two selections from La Traviata impress, where both women have been famous Violettas. In verismo arias not strongly associated with Callas Gheorghiu best shows similar class; but tackling Carmen and Medea is less convincing. Why is an unreadable booklet essay printed white on a pinkish background?

Highlight: "Jewel Song" from Faust.


> Arcadia Lost. Music of Vaughan Williams and Britten. Melba CD.

Arcadia Lost. Music of Vaughan Williams and Britten. Melba CD.
Arcadia Lost. Music of Vaughan Williams and Britten. Melba CD.
British conductor Mark Wigglesworth draws vivid and very noteworthy performances of compatriots' works from the Sydney Symphony Orchestra: Benjamin Britten's Sinfonia da Requiem plus Ralph Vaughan Williams' Flos Campi (with chorus sung by Cantillation and Roger Benedict solo viola), and The Lark Ascending (solo violin Michael Dauth).

An inspired addition is Vaughan Williams' emotional On Wenlock Edge, performed by Steve Davislim (tenor) with Hamer Quartet and pianist Benjamin Martin.

These are all beautifully recorded. Britten's explosive antiwar music is particularly exciting. Vaughan Williams is well served with the velvety violin tones of Dauth and well-balanced viola, chorus and orchestra in Flos Campi (based on The Song of Solomon.) On Wenlock Edge fills ears and disc nicely.

Highlight: exhilarating Australian performances.


 

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