I went to Tower Records day before yesterday and found a number of new discs
on sale: Jose Cura, Anhelo; Alagna and Gheorghiu, Verdi per Due; Marcelo
Alvarez, Bel Canto. He are my immediate reactions.
Cura: I have his Puccini cd and don't particularly care for it. I found his
tone bland and his high notes lacking ring. I didn't hear much personal
interpretation and wondered if conductor Domingo had held him back. I was
disappointed because I knew that he had gotten many good reviews for his stage
performances. His new recording is of Argentinian songs with a variety of
accompaniment: piano, guitar, and chamber orchestra. I basically like Spanish
music and there are a number of attractive, romantic songs on this disc. Cura
never sings full voice and shows tremendous finesse and excellent tone. He
conducts on this disc and wrote an instrumental introduction. He seems to me
to be trying to out-Domingo Domingo by adding composing to singing and
conducting. I won't be listening to this disc a great deal but I consider it
an excellent effort.
Alagna and Gheorghiu: I find Angela's voice dark and sexy. She is perhaps my
favorite younger soprano. I found Roberto excellent in a live performance of
Boheme, but am not fond of his recorded work, where the close-miking
accentuates his harsh tone. The new disc of Verdi duets provides better
balance between singers and instrumentalists. The Alagna voice sounds more
pleasing when the mike isn't right up against his tonsils. With close-miking
he sounds like a spinto; at a distance more lyrical. So I like this new
recording better than some of his earlier discs.
Alvarez is lyric tenor who began his career at a more advanced age than is
common. He is from Argentina, I believe, like Cura. In this cd he sings a
number of Italian warhorses plus an extended scene from Puritani with soprano.
I think you have to be careful about judging a voice just from recordings.
These can provide a much different impression than live performances. I found
the Alvarez voice to be quite attractive but without much "point" or
intensity. He sings a good high C, but he attacks high notes with care and it
is hard to know whether he has much power in the upper register. This is a
sweeter, more Italian sound than Alagna's, and so very welcome. I hear some
similarily to the voice of Fernando de la Mora, whose first recital disc very
much impressed me.