Carlos Álvarez - Zarzuela Gala
It’s unusual to have a zarzuela recital from a baritone rather than a tenor‚ and the surprise may be all the greater for the fact that five of Álvarez’s solos are included in Plácido Domingo’s EMI recital (1/89). In fact‚ all the roles sung here are baritone parts‚ though their composers probably had in mind something lighter and more heroic than Álvarez’s rather gritty voice.
Juan’s greeting to his native village in Guerrero’s Los gavilanes is one number where we really need something more uplifting and romantic than Álvarez can offer. He has the power and precision all right‚ but little of the flexibility and expressiveness of‚ say‚ Marcos Redondo‚ a great Spanish baritone of the past who created some of the roles represented here. Álvarez is at his best in the two Torroba solos‚ especially ‘Amor‚ vida de mi vida’ from Maravilla‚ where the voice swells from its lower reaches to greater effect than achieved by Domingo’s tenor.
The inclusion of orchestral items and duets with the agreeably sweetvoiced Ana Ibarra adds welcome variety‚ but the lack of a chorus prevents enjoyment of the full flavour of some numbers. I fear‚ too‚ that Ensayo do not help spread the gospel of this marvellous repertory by telling us nothing whatsoever of what the pieces are all about. Fortunately‚ if the repertory appeals‚ a wonderful website – www.nashwan.demon.co.uk/zarzuela.htm – tells us everything we need to know about these songs and their dramatic context.