bellini songs acte prealable

Vincenzo Bellini (1801-1835)
Composizioni da Camera
Joanna Tylkowska-Drożdż (soprano)
Olha Bila (piano)
rec. 2022, Szczecin, Poland
Sung texts and translations included
Acte Préalable AP0564 [53]

Bellini’s songs are not performed that often and indeed this is only the second recording of his Composizioni da Camera I’ve come across. Veronica Kincses recorded the complete set for Hungaroton back in 1982, though a few of the songs have appeared on various recital discs over the years.

They were probably written some time in the 1820s and it is unlikely that Bellini intended them all to be performed together; in fact, they were not published as a set until 1935, by the Milan publisher Ricordi. The Kincses disc includes all the songs in the Ricordi edition, in the order in which they appear in the score, whereas the present issue substitutes one or two other songs from a different source, such as La ricordanza, which turns out to be the tune of Qui la voce from I Puritani. Texts and translations are provided, some being by Metastasio, but the majority are anonymous.

Most of the songs are quite short, though the longest Torna, vezzosa Fillide,runs to almost eight minutes and is in the style of a mini operatic scena. It is the most complex of the songs and closer in style to the music of Bellini’s operas. However , for the most part, the songs are tuneful and undemanding, and it is not surprising that a few of them have made it into recital programmes of more famous singers, like Pavarotti, Bartoli, Tebaldi and even David Daniels, all of whom have made recordings of the most famous song, Vaga luna, che inargenti, the tune of which kept reminding me of the English folk song, The foggy, foggy dew. 

Any of the above singers would be preferable to the Polish soprano, JoannaTylkowska-Drożdż, who has a rather hard, bright voice and tends to sing at an unrelenting mezzo-forte throughout, any refinement or tonal nuance only being offered by the pianist Ohla Bila. Nor is she particularly imaginative in her phrasing or her response to the poetry. Listening to the disc in one sitting proved something of a trial. The somewhat reverberant acoustic also tends to exaggerate the hardness of Tylkowska-Drożdż’s timbre.

As it happens, Veronica Kinkses’ Hungaroton recording of the fifteen songs in the 1935 Ricordi edition is still available to stream or as a download and is infinitely preferable if you are looking for a single disc of Bellini’s songs. However, I have a feeling most of us would be content to find the odd song on a mixed recital by a favourite artist. It should be noted that five of the songs appear on a 1997 disc by Cecilia Bartoli, called An Italian Songbook, on which she sings songs by Donizetti, Bellini and Rossini.

Philip Tsaras

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La farfaletta (anonymous)
Quando verrà quell di (anonymous
Sogno d’infanzia (anonymous)
L’abbandono (anonymous)
A palpitar d’affanno
Torna, vezzosa Fillide
La ricordanza (Carlo Pepoli, Conte)
Dolente imagine di Fille mia (anonymous)
Vaga luna, che inargenti (anonymous)
Malinconia, Ninfa gentile (Ippolito Pindemonte)
Vanne, o rosa fortunate (Pietro Antonio Domenico Bonaventura Trapassi as Metastasio)
Bella nice, che d’amore (anonymous)
Alme se non poss’io (Pietro Antonio Domenico Bonaventura Trapassi as Metastasio)
Per pietà, bell’ idol mio (Pietro Antonio Domenico Bonaventura Trapassi as Metastasio)
Ma rendi pur content (Pietro Antonio Domenico Bonaventura Trapassi as Metastasio)