The Very Best of Anna Netrebko
Deutsche Grammophon, 2018
It seems that this year we will be overwhelmed by recordings featuring Russian soprano Anna Netrebko. The present one, her second “best of” after the one released in 2009, is her third album in less than two month, after 2018 Night Summer Concert and the EP O mio babbino caro. Whatever the reason for this abundance, it is really beginning to be too much. As I wrote in my review, the EP was a totally unessential release, directed only to promote Netrebko’s next recording – and now it seems even more superfluous than before, as the only new track included in it (the title track) is also the first one of this Very Best.
The purpose was, of course, to create expectations for this new collection, a selection of fifteen pieces of which three are new recordings. Apart from O mio babbino caro, the new tracks are Non ti scordar di me and Libiamo from La traviata. In both, Netrebko sings opposite her husband, Yusif Eyvazov, whose presence has become inevitable in each one of her latest recordings, starting with Verismo. I already wrote my impressions of O mio babbino caro in the review of the EP, and all my considerations on Netrebko’s voice are good also for the next two pieces. Despite her beautiful timbre is always a source of admiration, her intonation wobbles. However, she tries to embellish the song and the brindisi with some noteworthy inflexions of her voice. Eyvazov, for his part, is quite adequate for Non ti scordar di me, but not for Libiamo, as he sings it like another piece of light music.
The other pieces are taken from Netrebko’s previous recordings. Four of them belongs to Verismo, one from her most recent recordings (Cantami, from Romanza), while all the others date back to earlier years and feature superstars as Rolando Villazon and Elina Garanca. These pieces are definitely those worthy of a “best of”, especially Casta Diva with its suggestiveness and charm. About the arias from Verismo, I already expressed my opinion in the review I wrote about that recording, and it is not the case to repeat them here.
What I can say is that, once again, Anna Netrebko fails to meet expectations. This selection highlights her weaknesses rather than her artistry, especially when you make a comparison between the last pieces of the Very Best with the first ones. The impression you get is that of a decline rather than of an ascent.