present CD with Austrian performers is a case in point. While never capturing the distinctive ‘Rameauesque sound’ or being truly idiomatic, this selection culled from the tragédie lyrique Dardanus (1739) and the acte de ballet Pigmalion (1748) makes for pleasant (if at times confusing, for those that know the operas) listening, particularly in the brief contribution of the Swedish tenor Anders J. Dahlin, who does have considerable experience of the contre-ténor repertoire. Incidentally, I have retained the spelling Pigmalion, used for the CD (and also Grove Opera), rather than Pygmalion, to the best of my knowledge universally used in France.
Dahlin is restricted to four numbers, two from each work. They include the florid ariette ‘Règne amour’, a classic example of the kind of Italianate music that got Rameau into trouble with conservative Lullists, and the magnificent ‘Lieux funestes’ from Act 4 of Dardanus, with its memorably mournful bassoon solo, here left rather stranded without the context of Dardanus’s prison. All are well sung by Dahlin with greater freedom and in fuller voice that has sometimes been the case, though some of his ornaments are not turned with sufficient precision. Michi Gaigg’s orchestra, rather smaller than usual for Rameau, plays capably, though the winds seem very closely miked. In its modest way, the disc passes away an hour agreeably, but it goes without saying it is no substitute for hearing the full operas idiomatically performed. brian robins
Lise Davidsen—Beethoven, Wagner, Verdi Arias from Fidelio, Medea, Cavalleria rusticana, La forza del destino, Otello; ‘Ah! perfido!’ (Beethoven), Wesendonck Lieder (Wagner). With the London Philharmonic Orchestra, c. Mark Elder. Decca Classics 4851507 (one CD) Lise Davidsen is a fine singer, potentially a great one, but her recordings remain meagre. She has appeared on one complete CD recording, of Der Freischütz. Her Bayreuth Tannhäuser is on DVD/Blu-ray,
and her Covent Garden Fidelio from last year can be streamed. Her available output thus far gives us an imperfect picture of her gifts. Apart from a couple of early Norwegian song discs, her participation in a Peer Gynt recording, and that Freischütz, we’re left with just two recital discs on Decca Classics.
To judge from her London Fidelio, she can be an animated actor. But in recital she can be appreciated only for her sound and musicianship, and there she seems a little staid. Her second recital disc, surely accompanied by Mark Elder and the LPO, offers a similar blend of arias and songs as her first. Here we have ‘Abscheulicher!’ from Fidelio and more Beethoven (the disc was recorded in his birthday year), ‘Ah! perfido!’, along with major arias from Cherubini, Mascagni and Verdi and Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder.
The Wagner sounds properly calm and contemplative. But what’s interesting here is
Opera, May 2021