Thursday, 4 October 2012

Patricia Petibon

I seem to have a crush on nightingales; the latest soprano to hit my letterbox is Patricia Petibon whose new CD – bizarrely called Nouveau Monde – joins those by Sandrine Piau, Diana Damrau and Simone Kermes. Petibon has a lovely voice, she is technically agile and has an infectious personality, though perhaps she does overdo some of the whoops and shouts in the South American folk music on the disc. However, for all I know, that's how they do things in Peru.

The disc almost qualifies as “crossover” music with its mixture of baroque era folk and classical. The South American pieces are catchy, with traditional songs side-by-side with José de Nebra and Henry Le Bailly. As usual, I find the French baroque pieces by Jean-Philippe Rameau and Marc-Antoine Charpentier of lesser interest; I think French music only found its stride starting with Berlioz well into the 19th century. Petibon sings a very moving “Dido's Lament” from Purcell's Dido and Aeneas – surely one of the very greatest laments ever written. She also does a moving “Greensleeves” and a well-sung Fairest Isle (Purcell).

The conductor, Andrea Marcon, does go a bit overboard with drums, castanets, guitars and South American harp, possibly on the ground that since so much of the music is sung in Spanish, all sorts of percussion can be wheeled up and let loose. However, listening to Nouveau Monde and Patricia Petibon is an excellent way to spend an interesting and enjoyable hour or so.

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