Review by: Robert Levine
Artistic Quality: 9
Sound Quality: 10
I was much taken by Lise Davidsen’s first CD (see reviews archive) and am equally impressed by this, her second. I compared her there to Nilsson, but am hearing even more of Flagstad in her tone here. Whoever she reminds one of doesn’t matter: it is a great voice, beautifully handled, used expressively.
Just to get it out of the way, the voice itself seems capable of anything. The gentleness and spun tone of Desdemona’s “Ave Maria” makes you hold your breath; the nobility of utterance helps make Leonore’s “Abscheulischer!” a stunning, emotionally complex scena, both nervous and fearless. Her opening lines are so ferocious that there’s no doubt she will succeed in her rescue plans; her final lines are so virtuosically sung that one can sense a great career. “Ah, perfido” shows a similar combination of intensity and sincerity, and the downward chromatic runs are clean and perfectly in tune.
The cry of “fatalita” in “Pace, pace mio Dio” and subsequent misery are wonderfully delineated, even if the attack on the (lovely) B-flat on “pace” sounds more like a reining in than true Verdian line à la Milanov and Price. The huge “Maledizione” would shatter in the opera house. She has everything needed for Medea’s “Dei tuoi figli” except plangency, which really is required. Santuzza’s aria is excellent, but her low notes, wisely not pushed, need more development.
The Wesendonck Lieder are ravishing. “Der Engel” is heavenly; “Träume” is exquisitely, hypnotically sung; “Schmerzen” offers straightforward feeling with gleaming high notes. “Im Triebhaus” is sung about as gorgeously as you’ll ever hear it.
Love Lise Davidsen for her gloriously controlled power, for her tonal beauty, for her intelligence, for the naturalness with which the voice flows–but it is impossible not to love her. She still has room to move from strength to strength, and I can’t wait to hear what else she will do.
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Arias by Beethoven, Cherubini, Mascagni, Verdi, Wagner