The nine ringing high-Cs that bowled over Met Opera audiences last season in Donizetti's Daughter of the Regiment are nowhere to be found in this 13-track collection of sacred classics and virtuoso showpieces. No matter. The chief gifts of Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Flórez are all here: sweet, ringing top notes and an suave, elegant virtuosity. Santo is our Album of the Week.
More importantly, the album offers a chance to hear the bel canto tenor stretch beyond the Rossini and Bellini operas that have made him a fixture at opera houses around the globe. It's not a Christmas CD, but it includes unique takes on seasonal favorites like O Holy Night, sung in Latin, German and English, Adeste fidelis, which starts out in Latin, passes through German and winds up in English, and Comfort Ye from Handel's Messiah.
Flórez is not known for his German singing but he makes a fine impression in Schubert's Ave Maria and an aria from Haydn's Die Schöpfung, displaying an elegant legato and warm middle range. The singer’s beloved bel canto repertoire is not neglected either, with two rarely performed Rossini arias, “Gratias agimus tibi” and “Qui tollis,” both from the Messa di Gloria, as well as the refined and elegant “Domine Deus” from the Petite Messe solennelle. Bellini is here too, in an unfamiliar but first-rate “Qui sedes” from his Mass in A minor.
The album closes with one of Flórez's own compositions, an appealing number called Santo that contains the dance rhythms of his Latin American roots.
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Santo: Sacred Songs
Juan Diego Flórez
Available at Arkivmusic.com
Download courtesy of Decca Music Group