The point, however, is that this music is much more like violin music of the period than the usual innocuous songs one would expect. This makes sense when you read in the liner notes that her initial musical education was with her father, Juan, who was the violinist in the Capilla Real. In short, Colbran was a musician first and a singer second, not the usual career route for someone of her profession in those days. Thus one listens to these charming vignettes in a different way than if one were judging them as songs to be interpreted. We know from the descriptions of her voice that Colbran was particularly noted for the extreme beauty of her voice, and the accuracy of her intonation and embellishments. In short, that she used her voice like an instrument, which was exactly the opposite of what we read about Giuditta Pasta or the even more fiery Maria Malibran. Colbran, then, was the Carole Bogard or Kathleen Battle of her day, Pasta and Malbran being closer in voice and temperament to Leyla Gencer or Maria Callas. The pity of this disc is that not a single text for any of these songs is printed in the booklet. Yes, these songs don’t exactly set great poetry or really meaningful lyrics, but I would like to know what the heck they are about, and this time Emily Ezust’s magnificent online edifice, the Lied, Art Song and Choral Texts Archive, isn’t of any help, possibly since every piece on this disc is a world premiere recording. Consequently, one must judge the general feeling and mood of each piece from translations of the individual song titles: “My poor heart is palpitating,” “Although you are cruel,” “For the costume of my beautiful name,” “And foremost I should like that for the game,” “My heart gives me hope,” “Your beautiful lights,” etc.
Not exactly deep-sounding titles, you see, but the point is that Colbran, having been raised and given her musical education by a violinist-father, knew music well enough that she could write in an interesting style that does not bore the listener. I would go so far as to say that most of these songs bear comparison with some of the most famous arie antiche of the previous (18th) century; that’s how good they are. To add to the delight of this disc, soprano Pizzoli seems to have done her homework in regards to capturing the correct style and phrasing for these songs. Not merely beauty of tone, but also phrasing and coloration, bring these songs across with exactly the right feeling. Occasionally, Pizzoli’s highest notes turn a bit wiry, but never so much that it is annoying or abrasive to the listener. I would go so far as to say that she seems to pay particular attention to keeping her high notes rounded as much as possible; and, being a fine musician, she does not unduly drag out these pieces or inflict cockamamie “interpretive” distortions on them. In addition, harpist Gubri plays her instrument with fine musical sensibility, accenting the rhythms of the music as if she were playing the piano instead (although in two of the livelier songs, Se son lontano and Quel ruscelletto , not only is the vocal writing more florid than elsewhere but the accompaniment sounds more like a guitar than a piano). This, too, gives a good feeling of structure and momentum to each song and makes the listener feel as if he or she is privy to a private recital. In addition to recommending this disc as a whole, I would go so far as to suggest that sopranos who are so inclined to this style of music use some of these as encore pieces in their recitals. The recorded sound is a bit on the reverberant side, but when you have a pure-toned soprano like this it is not always detrimental to put some space around her voice. All in all, this is a real musical “find” and highly recommended.
Lynn René Bayley (source/font: aquí)
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