James Levine / Bryn Terfel

Bryn Terfel: Opernarien

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If any were needed, this album is a reminder of the extent of Bryn Terfel's achievement: the robust, disciplined voice, the versatility, the musical intelligence, the passion, and the interpretive depth he brings to whatever he sets his mind to. Mozart was the composer in whose work Terfel first came to prominence, particularly in the comic roles. "Non più andrai" is a marvel of sly wit, and Terfel's investment in the role is absolute; this is the kind of performance that made him an international sensation. He brings the same insouciance and sure grasp of the comic potential of every phrase to Leporello's Catalogue Aria. As accomplished as Terfel is in Mozart, he seems equally at ease in Wagner and in core 19th century repertoire. "Song to the Evening Star" from Tannhäuser is luminous, with luster both in Terfel's voice and in the orchestra. Some of the repertoire recorded here was new to the singer when he made this recording: Italian, French, and Russian roles he had not yet sung on-stage. Malatesta's "Bella siccome un angelo" is Terfel's first Donizetti, but he fully inhabits it, and the aria from Prince Igor, his first work in Russian, is fully persuasive. The same commitment, musicality, and understanding are evident in his arias from Les contes d'Hoffmann, Faust, La cenerentola, Macbeth, and Falstaff. James Levine, a master of making singers and orchestras sound their very best, leads the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in this repertoire in which it is unmatched, and the performances dazzle with apparent effortlessness and a secure grasp of such diverse idioms. Deutsche Grammophon's sound is clean and well balanced.

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