VERDI – Canzoni
Friedrich Haider, piano
César Augusto Gutiérrez – Paul Armin Edelmann
If we admire Verdi’s operatic music for its humanity and dramatic power, his canzoni (“songs”) reveal different lightness and spirit. These are graceful pieces, far from the most sorrowful situations of human condition and primarily directed to entertainment. Verdi composed most of them at the beginning of his career. Two volumes of Romanze date to 1838 and 1845, and later he add more songs to his catalogue only sporadically. He wrote only seven of them between the 1850s and 1894, the year of his last song, Pietà Signor. The total number of Verdi’s songs is therefore small: less than thirty works. Furthermore, as almost all of them date to the years when the young composer moved his first steps in the musical world, they irremediably appear as preliminary sketches, as test-beds of the future musical genius and nothing more than this.
Even though the present recording brings together seventeen songs, it is not inappropriate to state that it presents a wide collection of them – more than half of the total. The three excellent singers who sing the songs are internationally acclaimed soprano Diana Damrau, tenor César Augusto Gutiérrez and baritone Paul Armin Edelmann, accompanied at the piano by Friedrich Haider.
It is the case to notice that the album cover is misleading. It presents Damrau’s name in bold letters and her face in the foreground and one could expect that she sings all or the most part of the songs. This, however, does not correspond to the truth. The songs are equally divided between the three performers and Damrau sings only the first five, while tenor and baritone sing the others.
Damrau, with her bright and expressive voice (her vivacity is unmistakable), conveys joy and cheerfulness. With her succession of luminous high notes and amazing trills (in Lo spazzacamino) and with her lively personality, she is able to give prominence to the positive side, even to the optimism of the songs (Stornello, La zingara).
Gutiérrez, for his part, is noteworthy for his expressive and warm voice, as well as for his soft and elegant legato and for his impeccable diction.
Edelmann is remarkable for his smooth, homogeneous singing, which is embellished by emotional accents and a vivacious temperament.
As for Haider, his piano accompaniment is always considerate. It is not only helpful for the singers, but it has also its own character, becoming the fourth voice of this recording.