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Alla Breve

March 13, 1994|WALTER PRICE

BEL CANTO ARIAS. Kathleen Battle, soprano; London Philharmonic, Bruno Campanella, conductor. Deutsche Grammophon 435 866-2. Battle's impressive, light soprano has seldom sounded in such good estate--melting legato, effortless high notes, exquisite piano tones, trills, staccatos, exemplary diction--most of the resources in her vocal arsenal are pulled out for inspection. However, the joy she expresses in such an aria as "Partir, o ciel!" from Rossini's "Viaggio a Reims," over having a favorite hat returned to her, is not to the ear much different from that produced upon hearing that her lover is triumphant in war in the "Ah! D'amor in tal momento" section of "Giusto Dio" from "Tancredi," or that another lover in Amina's "Ah! Non giunge" from Bellini's "Sonnambula" has returned to her, begging forgiveness. The sound is beautiful, but one really wants more. Battle makes a good stab at a bit of comic bitchiness in Norina's "Pasquale" aria; that's about the only variation from her norm. An intriguing but vague program note thanks Renata Scotto for "assistance" in the recording. It's a safe bet there was no dramatic coaching involved from that fiery lady.

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