RAMÓN VARGAS "Canzoni" Songs by Scarlatti, Bellini, Leoncavallo, Tosti, de Crescenzo, Gastaldon, Falvo, Nardella, de Curtis, Cardillo, Ponce, Nacho and Grever
Ramón Vargas, tenor/Roberto Negri, piano
Laserlight 14.307 (B) (DDD) TT: 54:51 

 

Mexican tenor Ramón Vargas (b. 1960) has already proven to be a persuasive advocate of the bel canto repertoire. His bright voice, easy top, and fluent technique have served him particularly well in operas by Rossini. In this song recital, taped in performance October 13, 1995 at the Teatro Jurez in Mexico, Vargas journeys into "Three Tenors" territory, with delightful results.

All of Mr. Vargas' aforementioned strengths are in evidence in such popular melodies as "Mattinata," "Ideale," "Musica Proibita," "A 'Vuchella" and "Core 'Ngrato." The voice rings out with an infectious, youthful exuberance. Indeed, Mr. Vargas sings with greater passion than on any previous recording of his I've encountered. Particularly gratifying is the fact that Vargas refuses to rely solely on his refulgent tone. He constantly shades the voice, thereby making the climaxes all the more powerful. The sense of communication is further enhanced by crystal-clear diction. It is evident throughout the recital that both Vargas and his audience are having a marvelous time. This is charasmatic tenor singing of the first order.

Vargas ends the concert with four Mexican songs as encores that, not surprisingly, bring down the house. Roberto Negri is an able accompanist, but piano tone at times is rather clangorous. I would recommend this CD even if it were at full price. As it is on the ultra-budget Laserlight label, there's no reason to hesitate. If you enjoy this repertoire, Ramón Vargas will provide considerable pleasure -- as well as hope for the impending post-Domingo/Pavarotti era.

K.M.