French & Italian Arias Richard Margison
At the Proms this year Richard Margison gave a good account of himself in the title-role of Verdi’s Don Carlo (the cast had come straight from recording the opera for Philips). His strong, bright, even tenor voice and generous manner, phrasing broadly and giving top notes their full value, created a fine impression in the Royal Albert Hall. The same virtues are in evidence here, but clarity and volume count for less on a recording. A recital disc demands an appreciation of different styles and characters, which Margison seems less able to provide.
The four French arias are short on Gallic sensibility, the Meyerbeer and Gounod also displaying a less than open sound above the stave. By and large the Italian arias fare better. His second group, including the Ponchielli and Boito, shows how effective a singer can be in this repertoire if he has voice to spare, as Margison does; and in Cilea’s “La dolcissima effigie” his ability to move the voice evenly from note to note brings a certain distinction to his performance. But even in these verismo arias, and even more in the Puccini that follows, Margison goes for force of utterance rather than subtlety. His Cavaradossi, for example, becomes insistent too early in both arias and does not sound much of an artist. The orchestral extracts with the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra under Richard Bradshaw usefully help to provide some of the variety the singing lacks. Regarding Margison himself, the jury should remain out until there is further evidence on disc to hand.'