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SACD Review

Sempre libera

  • Vincenzo Bellini: I Capuleti e I Montecchi: Eccomi in lieta vesta…Oh! quante volte
  • Georges Bizet:
  • Carmen: Je dis que rien ne m'épouvante
  • Carmen: Entr'acte to Act III (Intermezzo)
  • Léo Delibes: Lakmé: Viens, Mallika…Sous le dôme épais 1
  • Gaetano Donizetti: Don Pasquale: Quel guardo il cavaliere
  • Charles Gounod:
  • Faust: Ah! Je ris de me voir
  • Roméo et Juliette: Ah! Je veux vivre dans ce rêve
  • André Messager: Madame Chrysanthème: Le jour sous le soleil béni
  • Giacomo Meyerbeer: Dinorah: Ombra leggiera
  • Jacques Offenbach: Les Contes d'Hoffmann: Barcarolle 1
  • Giacomo Puccini:
  • La Bohème: Quando me'n vo
  • Gianni Schicchi: O mio babbino caro
  • Giuseppe Verdi: La Traviata: È strano! è strano!…Ah! fors è lui…Sempre libera 2
Miah Persson, soprano
1 Katarina Karnéus, mezzo-soprano
2 Andrew Staples, tenor
Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra/Daniel Harding
BIS SACD 2112 Hybrid Multichannel
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Collected from live concerts in 2014, this lovely sounding Hybrid SACD captures soprano Miah Persson in absolute peak form. It's a program that mixes timeless favorites with less familiar fare. It's a fan album, in the sense that even those who don't gravitate to opera will have these pieces on hand. But you're not likely to mind the duplication, as each piece sounds beautiful. Diction is clear, while the voice is agile and completely expressive. I don't consider myself an opera lover, and yet I found the 66-plus minutes no problem at all.

Highlights are many, but even the most over-sung fare emerges with freshness and real depth of feeling. Persson may not invest every piece with great individuality – the live concert setting couldn't have helped – but you can't question her commitment. Mezzo Katarina Karnéus is slightly less engaged, but this is hardly her show. Tenor Andrew Staples does just fine in his one duet; the applause is pointlessly included. From Donizetti to Verdi, Persson gives us radiant and (more importantly) intelligent and unforced technique that many a soprano could learn from.

The downfall of this program for me is the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra under Daniel Harding. Like so many recitals with orchestra, the accompaniment is somewhat lacking in character. Whether it's Otto Geddes or Carlo Rizzi, each decade has brought us an uninteresting maestro to work with great singers. Harding is a fine musician, though critical opinion early in his career was very mixed. I don't sense any real feeling from conductor or orchestra, who certainly have the notes but little else. The quality engineering only enhances my feelings on the matter. Still, you weren't buying this for Harding anyways, and you can rest assured that this is a very great disc to enjoy.

Copyright © 2015, Brian Wigman