Nelly Miricioiu at Wigmore Hall
Though this was a highly successful song recital, I fancy that it would be the operatic arias sung as encores that most people would have felt like writing home about. The Rondine aria, with its broad phrases arching to the high C, is a sure winner. The ''Vissi d'arte'' has the experience of a fine ''Tosca al teatro'' behind it and is sung with strong dramatic conviction. The nostalgic sadness of the aria from La Wally perhaps needs richer, more Italianate low notes, but the performance has both delicacy and boldness. Certainly it is followed by much applause and roaring on the part of the audience, who evidently went away well contented.
This is a powerful voice but one capable of a luscious softening. The Duparc songs, especially the Chanson triste, have just the right combination of an intimate personal address and a slightly exotic thrill to the tone, telling of the underlying passion. In the Spanish group, where the passion is more overt, the lack of a well-rounded contralto tone in the low register robs the first and third of the Maja dolorosa songs of their warmth. Respighi's gentle melancholy suits her well, and the Invito alla danza, its bold words tinged with wistfulness in the music, develops as an exquisite example of Mericioiu's art at its best. In the concert itself the programme included the Vocalises of Ravel and Rachmaninov: those should have been worth hearing (rather more, perhaps, than the rather too 'tubular' and formal Mozart which opened the recital). As it is, we have the Proch Variations, once the party-piece of Tetrazzini and company, sung here with affection for the melody and with the imagination to present the old warhorse as something better than a mere technical exhibition. David Harper accompanies admirably throughout, and the recording catches the atmosphere of the occasion well. I found some difficulty in making out the words of the French songs but, all in all, much pleasure.'