Letter from Renata Tebaldi






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Canzoni Italiane

A review from Gramophone, September 1994

"An undemanding listener will derive pleasure from these undemanding songs" wrote AB when the record first appeared, 20 years ago. I would hope that a demanding listener might also derive pleasure from at least some of the songs; it's the performances that require economy in the demands. The programme ranges from Puccini and contemporaries back to Scarlatti and the so-called arie antiche. These need a more expressive art: the song by Pietro Paradisi, for instance, is playful in mood but not in the singer's manner here, and in "O del mio dolce ardor" the voice-face is set almost like a mask with minimal sign of life in its changing expressions. From a later age there are jolly songs by Rossini and Donizetti, but they bring no smile to the singing face. In Il carrattiere del Vomero she sings with spirit, but all this shouting at the mule isn't really very amusing, and (quite apart from being properly a man's song) it's not a song for Tebaldi.

Better in performance are some gentle songs and some gentle parts of others. In the middle register and at a piano or mezzo forte the voice was still beautiful at that time, and Mascagni's La tua stella is meltingly lovely at the start. The Serenata carries the kind of emotion she can enter into, and here she communicates. Ponchielli's song, telling a version of the Paolo and Francesca story, suits her well, and, happily, the recital ends with the two items, songs by Bellini and Puccini, which she sings with genuinely and consistently attractive voice and style. Bonynge, stylish most of the time, sometimes brings an irritating touch. The recorded sound is a shade too opulent for the occasion. The booklet is without texts, but useful summaries are worked into the notes.



Renata Tebaldi, soprano
Richard Bonynge, piano

Scarlatti, Bellini, Cimara,
Donizetti, Gluck, Mascagni,
Mercadante, Paradisi, Parisotti, Ponchielli, Puccini, Ricci,
Rossini, Tosti, Zandonai

Decca 436 202-2


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