dimecres, 3 de febrer de 2016

COLBRAN, Isabel Angela (1785-1845) - Italian Arias for Voice and Harp

Adam Buck - Three young women making music (1811)
Obra d'Adam Buck (1759-1833), pintor irlandès (1)

- Recordatori d'Isabel Angela Colbran -
En el dia de la celebració del seu 231è aniversari de naixement

Parlem de Pintura...

Adam Buck (Cork, 1759 - London, 1833) va ser un pintor irlandès. Nascut a la població irlandesa de Cork, on va treballar durant dues dècades, Buck es va establir a Londres el 1795. Allà va triomfar immediatament per l'excel·lència neoclàssica del seu estil i es va fer àmpliament conegut en ambients aristocràtics. Va ser autor de nombrosos retrats, entre ells, el de príncep regent Jordi IV. Altres clients de gran renom que van encarregar retrats a Buck van ser Frederic de York, també pretendent al regnat i comandant en cap dels exèrcits britànics, i la seva famosa concubina, Mary Anne Clarke, una de les cortesanes més belles de Londres i organitzadora de festes tant fastuoses com les cerimònies reals. Va ser molt actiu com a professor i miniaturista exhibint diverses de les seves obres a la Royal Academy entre els anys 1795 i 1833, any que va morir a Londres.

Font: En català: No disponible En castellano: No disponible In english: Adam Buck (1759-1833) - Altres: Adam Buck (1759-1833)

Parlem de Música...

Isabel Angela Colbran (Madrid, 2 de febrer de 1785 - Castenaso, 7 d'octubre de 1845) va ser una soprano i compositora espanyola. Es va formar inicialment amb Francisco Pareja, Gaetano Marinelli i Crescentini abans d'estrenar-se en públic a París el 1801. El 1806 va tornar a Espanya, on va debutar aquell any, abans de marxar rumb a Itàlia on es va estrenar a Bolonya. Poc després va fer recitals a La Scala de Milà abans d'establir-se, durant 10 anys, a Nàpols. Va ser allà on va participar en diverses òperes de Spontini, Mayr i especialment Rossini. Va ser precisament amb el compositor italià amb qui es va casar, després de conviure prèviament, el 15 de març de 1822. Van viatjar juntament a Londres, on Colbran va ser la seva última aparició a l'òpera Zelmira. El 1837 es va divorciar de Rossini però va seguir vivint amb el pare del compositor fins el 1845. Com a compositora, va escriure quatre volums de cançons amb acompanyament instrumental. Va morir a Castenaso l'octubre de 1845.

Font: En català: Isabel Angela Colbran (1785-1845) En castellano: Isabel Angela Colbran (1785-1845) In english: Isabel Angela Colbran (1785-1845) - Altres: Isabel Angela Colbran (1785-1845)

Parlem en veu pròpia o en veu d'altri...

With many of the famous opera singers of the pre-recording era, all we can really go by are the written descriptions of their voices and personalities, and we know from the reviews of their performances that they almost all ad-libbed improvisations and cadenzas in their arias liberally and often without good taste. I was therefore interested to hear how Isabella Colbran’s musicianship, as reflected in her songs, compared to that of some of her contemporaries. Because of this, I began not with the Barcarolle or any of the four books of Canzoncine ou petits airs italiens, but with the variations on “O nume tutelar,” the great and noble aria from Spontini’s masterful opera La Vestale. By and large, I found the variations a bit overdone (much like listening to some early 20th-century sopranos overdo the variants in Rossini’s “Una voce poco fa”), but musically sensible and tasteful. They would never do in a stage performance of the opera, of course, but as a concert piece with piano or harp accompaniment (and all of these pieces give that option), it makes a fine set-piece. Thus I was expecting the Barcarolle and the Canzoncine to be similar pieces, somewhat ornate showoff pieces for the voice. I was mistaken. They are elegant chamber works, very well written and, in fact, similar to the music of her famous husband, Rossini. Ah, but there is a catch here: Colbran wrote these pieces between 1805 and 1809, long before she even met, let alone married, the famous composer. Perhaps she had a musical influence on him that will never be proven? Quite possibly. Rossini was one composer who never passed up a good tune he could pilfer, as witness his using the melody of “Caro mio ben” in his opera Armida. 

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)

Gaudiu i compartiu! 

Informació addicional... 

INTERPRETS: Maria Chiara Pizzoli (soprano); Marianne Gubri (harp)
TACTUS: COLBRAN, I. - Italian Arias for Voice and Harp
CPDL: No disponible
SPOTIFY: COLBRAN, I. - Italian Arias for Voice and Harp

Tant si us ha agradat, com si no, opineu, és lliure i fàcil!

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