Mstation Classical Reviews

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Sat, 29 Sep 2007

Luci, Bartoli, and a dead diva

R.I.P. Luciano. Though they rarely seem to, it would be fitting if people who have given so much pleasure to so many, would live to ancient ages while conferring the occasional gracious wave on us from beyond their careers and perhaps the occasional bon mot. Luciano Pavarotti might have displeased some, from time to time, at a technical level, but his humanness and his presence did nothing but good for his genre of music.

Speaking of those that are gone, Decca has a nice limited edition out of Maria Cecilia Bartoli doing a tribute to the nineteenth century Spanish diva, Maria Malabran. MM's adventures, both sexually and otherwise, were legion. She was born in 1808 and died in 1836.. at the tender age of just 28.

She is being billed now as the world's first female superstar and in her short time she did manage to get to most of the world's cultural capitals - and scandalising many along the way - most particularly the uptight bourgeois of Paris.

As you can imagine, Bartoli does her usual wonderful job on works by Bellini, Hummel, Mendelssohn, Garcia, and Malabran herself. One CD and a thick little booklet which is part of the CD package, make up the nice offering.

It was interesting, a couple of years ago, to see the Bartoli disc of the time being the number one selling CD in France. You don't often get a chance to compare apples and oranges in this way because in most places the pop charts are seperate. If you listened to the pop people you would be given to believe that the classical market was very small fry. Perhaps it normally is. I don't know and I'm only marginally interested so I shan't follow up, but if I trip over more information I will let you know. I could be wrong but I don't think this Bartoli disc will reach those heights. This is because of the theme rather than the performance. It's fun, but a little contrived. (Baron K)

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