William Berger - Scottish Chamber Orchestra - Hommage a Trois - SA-CD.net

Hommage à Trois is a well compiled SACD that showcases the considerable talent of the fine young baritone William Berger in a programme of familiar and less familiar operatic scenes. The 'trois' in question are Haydn, Mozart and Cimarosa whose Il Maestro di Capella provides the longest and most entertaining item on the disc.

It is pleasing to find Haydn represented on this disc by arias from no less than five of his operas. The melodic invention and wit displayed in these works is astonishing and their unconscionable neglect both in the opera house and on record is most disappointing. 'Qual tuo visetto amabile' from Orlando Paladino, in which Berger is partnered by the delightful Carolyn Sampson, will surely bring a smile to even the most dour countenance. In the Mozart selections Sampson also joins Berger as the Susanna to his Count in 'Crudel! perché finora' from Le Nozze di Figaro as well as in two items from Die Zauberflöte.

William Berger's light but firmly projected baritone is well suited to all this music...his characterisations throughout are most engaging and he delivers the aforementioned Cimarosa piece with confidence and a gentle humour thankfully free from excess caricature.

The deft and beguiling accompaniments are in the capable hands of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra directed by Nicholas McGegan who brings a natural and unforced style to every aria. Try the single instrumental item - the Sinfonia that opens the Cimarosa - to experience the crispness and buoyancy of the playing.

The recording in Usher Hall, Edinburgh, expertly engineered by Philip Hobbs, is crystal clear with the surround channels providing just the right amount of ambience to the sound. Texts and translations are included in the accompanying booklet as well as an amusing and slightly risqué photo of William Berger that suggests maybe 'Hommage' should be 'Menage'.

Altogether a most enjoyable recital.

10 December 2013