Recordings > Recital

Krassimira Stoyanova: "Verdi"

spacer Arias. Münchner Rundfunkorchester, Baleff. Texts, no translations. Orfeo C 885 141 A 

StoyanovaCD

The surprising thing about Krassimira Stoyanova's exemplary Verdi disc is that the repertory remains on such a standard track; one aria each from Giovanna d'Arco and Luisa Miller provide the only slightly unusual fare. Yet this chance to hear the soprano essay a collection of mainstream Verdi arias makes one even more aware of how underused she is in such roles in this part of the world, and how enormously valuable an artist this is.

The varying vocal demands of Verdi's heroines dictate that no one singer is going to be the ideal "Verdi soprano." But there is a Verdi sound, and, arguably, Stoyanova's slightly dark, non-Mediterranean tonal color is not, by nature, that particular animal. Yet, transformed by intelligence, sensitivity and technical facility, her sumptuous instrument proves viable even when compared to many of the recorded greats of the past. The disc opens with "Ritorna vincitor," from Aida, an opera the soprano will take on in 2015. Immediately alive and involved, this Aida's intensity and vocal beauty carry the day. The Trovatore Leonora's "Tacea la notte" offers the tricky written cadenza, tossed off beautifully, and a neatly turned cabaletta, while, after a suitably agitated reading of the recitative, the treacherous "D'amor sull'ali rosee" benefits from gorgeous pianissimos, respectable trills and firm legato. Stoyanova's way with the intricately constructed intervals of "O fatidica foresta," from Giovanna d'Arco, makes one eager to hear her in more early Verdi, while passion, style and stage experience mark Luisa Miller's "Tu puniscimi, o Signore."  

"Addio del passato" (both strophes) represents the soprano's lovely Violetta, the role of her 2001 Met debut; observance of the composer's propulsive accents and dynamic markings in this aria is matched by attention to musical detail as well in "Morrò, ma prima in grazia," from Ballo, capped with a skillful execution of the difficult register-spanning cadenza from high C-flat down, over two octaves, to low A-natural. Despite a beautifully spun high B-flat piano and a valiant as-written, no-breath-first rendition of the final forte B-flat, Stoyanova's "Pace, pace, mio Dio" struck this listener as impressive rather than essential, with the legato somewhat bumpy and beats too heavily accented to induce a sense of urgency.

Stoyanova's finest work here is in the selections from Don Carlo and Otello. The roles of Elisabetta and Desdemona could have been written for this artist's particular gifts. "Non pianger, mia compagna" exudes poignancy, while "Tu che le vanità" provides the soprano with an emotional journey fueled by stunning singing. Anyone fortunate enough to have caught Stoyanova's Desdemona, either in the extraordinary concert Otello under Riccardo Muti (available on CD as well) or in a staged performance, knows the role is one of this consummate artist's greatest interpretations. If this studio reading does not quite capture the sense of atmosphere generated in the Muti-led version, it stands on its own as one to treasure, masterfully sung and inflected.

There are two tiny caveats. Stoyanova has a tendency to use a breathy parlando veering from the vocal line to enhance expression, rather than leaningon the actual line and vowels to do the same; less affect would produce more effect. She also sometimes employs an "eh" vowel so closed as to become an "i" (as in vita). Pavel Baleff and the Münchner Rundfunkorchester lend adequate support, which becomes more inspired in the Don Carlo and Otello preludes. spacer 

IRA SIFF

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Current Issue: September 2014 — VOL. 79, NO. 3