Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Like You Just Stepped Into A Salon
dwadefoley | New York, New York United States | 03/09/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Opera Rara's Il Salotto series documents the salon music of the 19th century. It's a change from Opera Rara's usual heady fare, and this edition is perhaps the most light-hearted so far. It focuses on music that would have been performed by amateurs and not by the operatic stars that often were invited to the salons of the fabulously wealthy. Of the 32 songs documented here, 27 appeared in a forgotten and short-lived Neapolitan journal "Il Sibilo" from 1843-1845. Every second issue had a song by a well-known composer printed on the back page. Among the composers represented were Donizetti, Pacini, and Mercadante. Other figures such as Cammarano, Lillo, and Crescentini, who are less familiar, were also featured.Since the songs were printed on a single page, they are very short-only a few of the tracks actually make the two minute mark. They are great fun, and demand very little of the listener. Yet they are not insubstantial as artistic accomplishments. The words and music are invariably clever, and more than one of them has the barbed point of an O. Henry story - witness the charming little melody that accompanies a wish for the singer's ex-lover to choke to death on a morsel of food, or the fervent ode to a woman's beauty that ends with an accusation of frigidity. The singers approach these little delicacies with such enthusiasm that one can almost close one's eyes and imagine being in a warm, inviting salon surrounded by laughter, animated conversation, and of course, good music. Sopranos Nuccia Focile and Donata D'Annunzio Lombardi sing with grace and beauty while still capturing the light-heartedness and intimacy of these ditties. Paul Charles Clark is a rather whiny tenor of the Maurice Arthur ilk, but his captivating hamminess in his selections more than compensates for what he may lack in vocal beauty. Bass Ildebrando d'Arcangelo, the excellent and strikingly handsome Opera Rara regular, uses his rich and expressive voice to advantage. The pianist, David Harper, who is also featured in the other Salotto releases, continues in this series his tasteful and highly expressive accompaniment of this forgotten fare. He coaxes melodies from the keyboard with sensitivity and emotional intelligence; yet there is genuine humor and a sense of mischievous fun in his playing - which makes him the perfect choice to accompany these tongue-in-cheek pieces. Jeremy Commons provides detailed and interesting notes, which not only discuss the fascinating history of `Il Sibilo', but also chronicle his own accidental rediscovery of the journal and these very songs in 1972. English translations and commentaries are provided on all the songs. The booklet and box are most luxurious, with beautiful, brilliantly colored art reproductions and vibrant color photography of the recording sessions in progress. Even the CD itself is embossed with the music from one of the Pacini songs. This is a sumptuous release that spares no expense, but you can listen to it in bite-sized morsels or - more likely - to the whole thing in a sitting. And you may find yourself thinking of converting a room in your own home into a salon."