Joyce DiDonato / Antonio Pappano

Joyce & Tony: Live at Wigmore Hall

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Something about the Kansas-born mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato makes British audiences roll over and put their paws in the air, and this frothy but enjoyable recital gives additional indications about what it is. The album is taken from a pair of live recitals at London's Wigmore Hall, and the Erato label deserves credit for a sound environment that captures the relaxed quality of the events. Simply, DiDonato has the confidence to master whatever she tackles, and it's infectious. Known for muscular pieces like the little-known Haydn scene that opens the program, she shifts easily to semi-popular and popular songs as if it were the most natural thing in the world. The songs of composer Francesco Santoliquido, one click toward art song from what is usually understood by the term "Neapolitan song" (although Santoliquido was from Naples), are rarely performed, but DiDonato and her accompanist "Tony" (Antonio Pappano) are pitch-perfect in their lightly affecting quality. The second CD of the double set (and presumably the second recital of the original pair) is devoted to American song, from Stephen Foster to songs reflecting DiDonato's Irish heritage (despite the surname), and here again clarity, humor (from both musicians), and a relaxed quality are the watchwords. A superior light recital.

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