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Alla Breve

March 13, 1994|WALTER PRICE

LILY PONS IN RECITAL. Various orchestras, Maurice Abravanel, Pietro Cimara and Andre Kostelanetz, conductors. Sony MPK 45694. Pons' light, Gallic coloratura soprano was a mainstay in the opera house and on the concert stage for more than 30 years. The sound was small, silvery and without vibrato. The top, give or take some occasional pitch problems, was impressively secure; the bottom almost nonexistent. Among these Columbia recordings from the middle and late '40s, Pons is at her best in the French works, especially a truly bravura Bell Song and some equally adept Meyerbeer ("Ombre legere") and Thomas ("Je suis Titania"). She is able to mold and sustain a lyric Verdian line in "Tutte le feste" from "Rigoletto," but her decorations in "Son vergin vezzosa" betray an almost innocent ignorance of Bellini style. These days, after the often introspective pyrotechnics of the larger-voiced Callas, Sutherland, Anderson and Studer, Pons' work seems endearingly old-fashioned, even quaint.

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