Ailyn Pérez: "Poème d'un Jour"
Songs and arias by Hahn, Fauré, Massenet, Obradors, Turina and Falla; Burnside, piano. Texts and translations. Opus Arte OA CD9013D
Some singers ignite in front of a live audience. Ailyn Pérez, winner of the 2012 Richard Tucker Award, slips two live opera excerpts into her debut CD recital that give her away. Even with piano accompaniment, the difference between two arias from Manon and her French–Spanish song selections is so striking that we may safely call this rising soprano a genuine stage animal.
Opening with Reynaldo Hahn's subdued and delicately antique "À Chloris" is a peculiar choice, unless it's the most ravishing performance ever. Unfortunately, this is not. Although pretty, it sounds perfunctory and, like so many of the other tracks, not completely digested artistically. Groups of mélodies by Hahn and Fauré alternate with Spanish repertoire by Obradors, Turina and Falla. Every piece is attractive and immaculately sung, but Pérez seems to expect the music itself to do all the work, if she applies gorgeous tone and creamy phrasing. There's plenty of that, along with her unique and intense sound and a nice sense of how to shape a line. What's missing, though, is genuine connection with the material and a strong artistic point of view. It's as though Pérez were dutifully performing repertoire her voice teacher had chosen for a degree recital.
Neither Pérez nor pianist Iain Burnside brings much pizzazz to the extroverted Spanish selections, although Falla's hushed "Asturiana" and the melancholy "Con amores," from Obradors's Canciones Clásicas Españolas, are beautifully delivered, with intimacy and concentrated tone. The two artists seem most at home in Turina's Poema en Forma de Canciones, in which fiery playing and passionate singing are on display.
Two excerpts from Manon, taken from a live recital with Burnside, show the soprano at her best — lively, engaging, sparkling with color and vocal personality. "Je suis encore tout étourdie" is especially authoritative. Whereas much of the recital finds Pérez's timbre excessively darkened, here and in "Adieu, notre petite table," her luminous natural vocal color is enchanting.
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