William Berger - Scottish Chamber Orchestra - Hommage a Trois - Gramophone
04 March 2014Gramophone
The ‘three' in question are Haydn, Mozart and - courtesy of
a large chunk from Il maestro di cappella
- Cimarosa. It's a varied, unclichéd programme, ranging from the ultra-familiar
to the barely known. The rising South African baritone William Berger
immediately sets out his stall in the opening aria from Haydn's L'isola disabitata, singing with firm,
mellow tone, bright, ringing top notes and a care for evenness of line.
Choosing an expansive tempo, he gives Creonte's lyrical ‘Il pensier sta negli
ogetti' an unusually elegiac tinge. At the other end of the spectrum, Berger
brings a vivid ‘face' to the absurd Villotto's ‘Non sparate' (La vera costanza), abetted by
rhythmically zestful playing from the SCO.
Of the Mozart items, Don Giovanni's champagne aria is well
sung but a tad eautious, though in fairness the Don's whirlwind credo always
suffers when torn out of context. Nor is the Serenade as alluring as it can be.
But Berger impresses as a suave Count in Figaro,
and in Guglielmo's mock-heroic catalogue aria ‘Rivolgete', both of which
display his free top register. He is a distinctly upmarket Papageno in two
duets with the delightful Carolyn Sampson, never sacrificing tone for comic
effect. He resists the temptation to ham up the pompous singer-conductor in the
extra from Cimarosa's intermezzo Il
maestro di cappella. This send-up of an orchestral rehearsal, 18th-century
operatic comedy at its most naïve, can easily become a bore. Avoiding crude
caricature, Berger, McGegan and the ever-alert players get it just right: an
entertaining send-off to a beautifully recorded recital that enhances the young
baritone's credentials as fine Classical stylist.
Related LinksCarolyn SampsonNicholas McGeganScottish Chamber OrchestraWilliam BergerHommage a Trois