. . . a delightful record . . . delicate singing . . . [Ugo Benelli] displays dynamics and sweetness of tone . . . [Graziella Sciutti]: "Convien partir" is as delicate as china . . . Her Despina and Susanna are [fresh] . . .
Record Review /
John T. Hughes,
International Record Review (London) / 01. July 2014
. . . DECCA's "Most Wanted Recitals!" series is a fitting vehicle for the rediscovery of the Romantic Songs of Rossini, Donizetti, and Bellini. This disc is thus the lovingly-overhauled vintage vehicle for the homecoming of these seductive songs, and a more charming pair of Italian drivers than soprano Lydia Marimpietri and tenor Ugo Benelli could not have been found. Originally recorded in 1967, this recital of jewels from the undisturbed trove of "bel canto" songs benefited from its inception from the high standards of sonic excellence maintained by DECCA . . . the recording retains a natural balance among voices and piano, and any vestiges of the recording's age have been largely eliminated without the "bloom" of the vocal reproduction being diminished . . . the recordings are refreshingly free of distortion. The clarity of the sound enables full appreciation of the subtle but robust inflections of Erik Smith's [accompaniments] . . . In each of the fifteen songs, Mr. Smith provides precisely the right atmosphere for the text, and he both supports and slyly guides the singers' interpretations . . . Duties in performing the "bel canto" songs are shared equally by both singers . . . Ms. Marimpietri was gifted with a light but unfailingly beautiful voice and superb musicality that served her well in a broad repertory . . . Ms. Marimpietri opens this disc with a ravishing account of Bellini's "Il fervido desiderio", her articulate but never affected diction heightening the dramatic impetus of Bellini's languid melodic lines. Her singing of Donizetti's "Me voglio fa'na casa", "Meine Liebe", and "A Mezzanotte" is consistently refined but never at the expense of simple, open-hearted emoting . . . performances of grace and subtle wistfulness. Rossini's "La partenza" ("Soirées musicales No. 3"), one of its composer's most hypnotic creations, enjoys in Ms. Marimpietri's handling serenity and attention to detail that would prove equally ideal in the Lieder of Mozart, Schubert, or Schumann . . . Bellini's "Bella nice che d'amore" and "Per pietà, bell'idol mio" . . . are performed to perfection by Mr. Benelli, his artistry filling the vocal lines and enabling him to avoid stretching his slender, silvery voice unduly. Donizetti's "Amore e morte" and "Eterno amor e fè" draw from Mr. Benelli displays of consummate supremacy in bel canto, and his singing of Bellini's Arcadian "Malinconia, ninfa gentile" exudes the quiet melancholy that permeates the song's text. Ms. Marimpietri joins Mr. Benelli in Rossini's "La serenata" ("Soirées musicales No. 11"), and their voices combine exquisitely . . . the singers' instinctive grasp of Rossini's, Donizetti's, and Bellini's idioms enables even the listener with no knowledge of Italian to comprehend the sentiments of each song . . . [Graziella Sciutti] offers many glimpses of the musical and dramatic vibrancy that won the hearts of so many audiences . . . this disc remedies a glaring omission in the discography of Nineteenth-Century Art Song. Perhaps the honest, heartfelt singing of Lydia Marimpietri and Ugo Benelli might even inspire some of today's adventurous young artists to explore these sweet blossoms of pure "bel canto".
Record Review /
Voix des Arts (Blog) / 07. July 2014
Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, ce sont aussi des mélodies, à l'affiche d'un album à trois têtes. Si l'on apprécie les qualités de Lydia Marimpietri, on écoute surtout Ugo Benelli, un des rares authentiques "tenore di grazia" de sa génération, héritier de toute une tradition bel cantiste. Chant sur le souffle, agilité, "messa di voce" . . . l'irrésistible Graziella Sciutti n'incarne pas moins le beau chant. Les compléments lui reviennent: Despina aussi rouée que charmeuse, Juliette de Bellini au cantabile élégiaque.
Record Review /
Didier Van Moere,
Diapason (Paris) / 01. July 2014