Elīna Garanča

Aria Cantilena

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After discs for Ondine and Virgin, Latvian mezzo soprano Elina Garanca made her Deutsche Grammophon debut in late 2006 with this disc called Aria Cantilena after the first movement of Villa-Lobos' Bachianas brasileiras No. 5. For the most part, the then-30-year-old Garanca stuck with the lighter end of the French and Italian repertoire -- Massenet's Werther, Rossini's La Cenerentola, and Offenbach's Les Contes d'Hoffman -- flirted twice with the lighter end of the Spanish repertoire -- Chapi's Al pensar and Montsalvatge's Madrigal sobre un tema popular -- and only on the last track touched the heavier German repertoire with Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier. Her voice, while still youthful in tone, sounds darker in timbre than many other mezzos and her technique, while quite formidable if not completely indomitable, is secondary to her interpretations, which are very forceful and emotionally direct. This is not to say that Garanca's singing is spontaneous -- one gets the sense that every accent and inflection has been thoroughly considered -- but that she means to put each piece across by aiming straight at the listener's heart. And, it has to be said, Garanca, within the limits of the repertoire, completely succeeds. Whether in the ensemble Finale of Cenerentola, the duet Finale from Rosenkavalier, or all alone in Charlotte's Letter Scene, Garanca's performances are clean, conscientious, and, each in their own way, affecting. Fabio Luisi, the music director of the Dresden Staatskapelle, accompanies Garanca with sensitivity and grace and Deutsche Grammophon's sound is clear, warm, and colorful.

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