Pumeza: Arias

Reviewed on Thu 22 Sep, 2016

Creamy tone is a notable feature in the Hahn and Fauré numbers, and endearing humour is palpable in the Montsalvatge. The Ravel, Yradier, Sarti, Dvořák and Gluck all fall a bit flat due to their bland vocal characterisation.

Having given Pumeza Matshikiza’s debut recording a warm welcome (see my review dated 2 October 2014), this release arrived with some anticipation. As with its predecessor, the programme is a wide-ranging one of arias and orchestral song. To be fair, the results are variable. At her best, such as in Puccini’s Mimi, Catalani’s Wally and Purcell’s Dido, Pumeza offers strong characterisation where her stage experience is evident. Creamy tone is a notable feature in the Hahn and Fauré numbers, and endearing humour is palpable in the Montsalvatge. The Ravel, Yradier, Sarti, Dvořák and Gluck all fall a bit flat due to their bland vocal characterisation. Some irritations creep in on repeated listening: occasionally approximate diction and off-pitch notes in the higher vocal range, the Aarhus Symphony Orchestra’s prosaic playing under Tobias Ringborg, and the unnecessary shortening of some items – Dido’s Lament lacks its preceding recitative. Good sound quality. Maybe future releases should concentrate on areas of strength in greater depth.
–Evan Dickerson