United Kingdom Schubert, Rossini, Meyerbeer and Liszt: Luca Pisaroni (bass-baritone), Justus Zeyen (piano), Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh, 23.8.2012. (SRT)
Songs by Schubert, Rossini, Meyerbeer and Liszt
Seeing Luca Pisaroni in recital leaves you in no doubt that you are watching an opera singer through and through. He physically emotes and acts his way through each song as if he were a character on stage. It’s very winning for Schubert’s three Italian songs (D902) which, with their semi-buffo tone, are just like operatic arias. However, it begins to wear a little thin after too much of the same. The swaying and face-pulling that accompanies Rossini’s drunkard in L’orgia got a bit much!
Pisaroni is mostly famous for his Mozart on the stage, and his voice suits Schubert and Rossini very well, though I was less enamoured with the rather insubstantial Meyerbeer selection. His voice is ripe and exciting, with the ability to fill a hall like this with ease, though often thin at the bottom and an occasionally perceptible strain at the very top.
Perhaps surprisingly, he was most at home in the German songs by Liszt. The storytelling suited his operatic skills well but there was less of the ham acting, and his vocal colour was used to evoke character and tell a story beautifully, most of all in the climactic Vätergruft, depicting an old knight addressing the tombs of his ancestors before giving up the ghost himself.
It was no surprise that the remarkable pianism of Justus Zeyen came to the fore in the Liszt songs too, most especially in O lieb, so lang du lieben kannst, which Liszt later rearranged as the famous Liebestraum No. 3. After this, the Petrarch Sonnets were a little overcooked by comparison.
The concert was broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 and will be available via the iPlayer for seven days after the date of the concert.
The Edinburgh International Festival runs until Sunday 2nd September at a range of venues across the city. A selection of performances will be reviewed in these pages. For full details go to www.eif.co.uk