JEAN DIEGO FLÓREZ — "Italia"
Juan Diego Flórez, tnor; Avi Avita, mandolin. Ksenja Sodorova, accordion. Craig Ogdenm, guitar. Filharmonica Giachino Rossini/ Carlo Tenan, cond.
DECCA 378 8408 TT: 56:16
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ROLANDO VIKLLAZÓN "Treasures of Bel Canto"
Rolando Villazón, tenor. Cecilia Bartoli, mezzo-soprano.
Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino/Marco Armiliato, cond.
DGG 479 495 TT: 64:29
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RAVEL: L'enfant et les sortilèges. Shéhérazade. Alborada del gracioso.
Susan Graham, mezzo-sooprano. Soloists. SKF Matsum Chjorus and Children's Chorus. Saito Kainen Orch/Seiji Ozawa, cond.
DECCA 478 6760 TT: 69:09
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Here are two new new solo albums guaranteed to pleas we their admirers. Juan Diego Flórez offers a program of light Italian favorites including the expected Torna a Surrento, Mattinata, O Sole Mio and La Danza, all tossed off with the greatest of ease and beautiful, appropriate sound. Rich orchestral accompaniments often featuring accordion and guitar, and a fine orchestra directed by Carlo Tenan. Rolando Villazón´on, now fully recovered from his per,period of vocal stress, offers a group of bel canto arias with a different focus, songs by Bellini, Rossini, Donizetti and Verdi. He is in fine form, and we have a major plus as mezzo Cecilia Bartoli joins Villazón in one song, Rossini's Tirana Les Armants de Séville, four minutes of pure delight. Excellent audio on both disks and complete texts and translations are provided for the Bel Canto CD.

Seiji Ozawa surely has enjoyed a prestigious career. He was music director of several major orchestras over the years including the Boston Symphony which he led beginning in 1973 and remained in that position for 29 years. Born in 1935, he continues to conduct occasionally, and for years has been associated with tincluding some with the Saito Kainen Orchestra which he helped form in 1984. These Ravel performances were recorded during the Saito Kainen Festival. at the Naganoken Matsumoto Bunka Kaitan in September 2009, L'enfant was taped in the Matsumoto Performing Arts Center in August 2013. All performances are excellent. The cast for the delightful opera could not be bettered, and Susan Graham is in top form in the song cycle. Audio is excellent; it is unfortunate this was not released in multi-channel sound—how effective it would have been had the many different characters in the opera be spread across the sonic picture. Complete texts are provided, and this is a mid-price disk. You might wish to investigate Ozawa's Boston Symphony Ravel recordings, which have been reissued in quad on Pentatone (REVIEW).

R.E.B . (October 2015)