Gregory Kunde – In Love and War
Great Rossini Scenes for Tenor
Prague Metropolitan Chorus
Prague Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra
Marzo Zambelli, conductor
Tenor Gregory Kunde recorded his Rossini album In Love and War in 2006 with Prague Metropolitan Chorus and Orchestra under the conduction of Marco Zambelli. As the title states, the recording is devoted to the sentimental and the bellicose sides of the tenor roles, represented by arias from some of Rossini’s most famous operas as L’italiana in Algeri, Tancredi and La Cenerentola and from rarities as Ermione and Ricciardo and Zoraide. The only sacred piece is Cuius animam gementem from one of Rossini’s few church works, the Stabat Mater, set in the middle of the album.
Kunde’s name is strictly associated to this repertoire being him one of the outstanding representatives of the so-called “Rossini Renaissance” (incidentally, it should be added that his repertoire comprises also French and Russian operas) and it is a matter of fact that his voice suits it very well – but, despite this favourable impression, there are some aspects that are not as thrilling.
Kunde’s voice, although flexible and warm, is a little worn, but he is able to strengthen his singing with unrestrained heroism that notably stands out in arias sung by leaders as Rodrigo (Eccomi a voi, miei prodi from La donna del lago) or where the expression of feelings is animated as in the cabalettas. On the other hand, Kunde’s temperament is unsuitable to sweeter arias as Languir per una bella (from L’italiana in Algeri) and even to the middle section of the aforementioned Eccomi a voi. Curiously, the same flaw does not affect the aria from La Cenerentola, where the tender and the intrepid sides of Prince Ramiro are equally and finely portrayed.
As for the performance, Kunde proves to be the master of his voice and the awareness of its limits allows him to not exaggerate and to stand out thanks to an almost always perfect coloratura (with little imperfections), an accurate diction and an extremely secure high register. Moreover, the arias offer many example of variations that the listener can judge more or less appropriate depending on her/his taste. It is also to be added that some attacks are not beautiful as Kunde pushes too much, but overall his singing is smooth and pleasing.
In the end, In Love and War is a fine although not an extraordinary recording and it will not disappoint a Rossini lover.