Dramatic Baritone Arias

Seonghyun Koh

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Dramatic Baritone Arias Review

by Anne Feeney

In his first recital disc, Korean baritone Koh shows a robust voice with a healthy upper range, good dynamic variations, and a powerful dramatic sense. He softens his voice effectively for the more pensive or tender arias, such as "Ah, per sempre" and "Di Provenza," though he does sound slightly over-covered in some parts of the latter. In "Largo al factotum," he is clearly using his voice to show off, and he is a dangerous Count in "Vedro mentr'io sospiro." He has fine diction and pays full attention to the text, as well as the overall dramatic situation, making his Iago's Credo a journey into the character's mind, rather than a generic "I'm so bad." The ending near shout of rage on "il ciel" is chilling.

There are certainly flaws, most notably his lack of a genuine trill and (a much smaller problem) some loss of diction in the faster passages of "Largo al factotum," but given the overall excellence of this recital (let alone its being a recital disc of a young singer), these flaws are relatively small.

Guido Ajmone-Marsan leads the Los Angeles Theater Orchestra well, though it is more effective in the crisper moments than the lyrical ones. The sound is quite good.