Ekaterina Siurina and Iain Burnside: "Amore e Morte"
Songs by Verdi, Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti. Burnside, piano. Texts and translations. Opus Arte OA CD 9017 D
Ekaterina Siurina explores the chamber songs of Rossini, Donizetti, Bellini and Verdi with pristine phrasing but with a frustratingly cool emotional stance. The Russian soprano's immaculate tone — dark-hued, with minimal vibrato or surface noise — and perfect tuning lend a cultivated and sophisticated veneer to the recital, but her detached and unimaginative delivery is puzzling and ultimately disappointing.
The tuneful miniatures presented here were intended for domestic enjoyment and chamber presentations, and many of the pieces are small-scale versions of typical bel canto arias. They need vocal personality, not a rigid approach, with real story-telling. Siurina just does not sound comfortable as a recitalist, in spite of Iain Burnside's dutiful contributions at the keyboard.
Siurina does well with songs that have strong musical shapes of their own, and Verdi's "Ad una stella" is a good fit. But too often expressive moments, such as harmonic shifts from minor to major, gloriously expansive phrases, charming repeated notes or atmospheric colorings, are neglected.
The best track is the opening, Verdi's charming and snippy "Stornello," in which the soprano's clipped and dry approach works with the text's bantering confidence. (There are mistakes in her Italian, however, that slipped by the producers.) Elsewhere, metronomic accuracy is not enough to bring to life the Gypsies and desperate lovers, a confident chimney sweep, or the amorous boat passengers that are so vividly portrayed in the music.
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