january 2011

florez santo

Classical Perspectives

Juan Diego Flórez’s Santo

‘The chief gifts of Peruvian tenor are all here…’


From WQXR-FM, New York:
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 a suave, elegant virtuosity.

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.

'Santo,' Juan Diego Flórez: 'Santo' is the title song of Juan Diego Flórez's latest CD, which contains sacred songs and arias. 'Santo' is Flórez’s own composition, which he also orchestrated and arranged. It's sung in Spanish and Quechua and includes Andean instruments.

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.

Juan Diego Flórez’s Santo is available at www.amazon.com

Juan Diego Flórez sings 'Cantique De Noel' by Adolphe Charles Adam from his new album, Santo


from Opera Obsession

Santo: Many Different Musical Styles In A Creative Program

by Lucy

(posted November 27, 2010)

Now that it's almost Advent, I can listen to Christmas music with a clear conscience. And this year, I decided to start things off with something new: Juan Diego Flórez ' new album. The commercial inevitability of "The Sacred Music Album" is something Flórez jokes about in the liner notes; but he's succeeded brilliantly in putting together an interesting program. Comparative rarities appear alongside familiar favorites, with an original composition thrown in: all of it beautiful music that plays to Flórez 's strengths.

Things start off with a brazen (sorry) display of vocal fireworks in the "Alleluia" from Johann Fux' Plaudite, sonat tuba (see, I told you it was a pun.) "Panis Angelicus" and "O Holy Night" are sung with such beauty that they provoke the response "Oh, that's really lovely, isn't it?" rather than "Oh, that again." (And Flórez sings beautifully in English.) Another familiarity is “Adeste Fideles,” sung in Latin, German, and English. Our friend Bellini is here too, unfamiliar music, predictably excellent.

Schubert's “Ave Maria,” more predictable, is also excellent. (Did you know that it cannot be sung in church in Italy, because it is technically secular music, coming from a setting of Walter Scott's “Lady of the Lake”? I did not, until Professore Palombo, who owns the coffee shop, told me.) Handel's Messiah and Haydn's Creation make up the oratorio quota nicely (a few mild idiosyncrasies of German pronunciation didn't bother me.)

Juan Diego Flórez, Schubert's 'Ave Maria'

A new-to-me offering was the gorgeous Kyrie from Ariel Ramirez' Misa Criolla. Maybe it was the effect of the choir on this piece, but it virtually conjured up an incense-filled cathedral; I loved it. Rossini is generously represented with three tracks (no complaints here) including my nomination for the most cheerful "Qui tollis" ever, from the Messa di Gloria. Flórez’s own composition, “Santo,” which gives the CD its title, was a surprise to me in several ways. According to the liner notes, composition is a hobby of his (perhaps something which will occupy what he apparently plans as a fairly long retirement—see his July 13, 2010 interview with Opera Chic). Second surprise: Peruvian inspiration without, in my opinion, self-conscious folksiness. This is just full of joy: syncopation, a guitar-like instrument, familiar and unfamiliar percussion, and one or several wood flutes (no orchestration notes, so this is my best guess.) Also, it was sung in Spanish and Quechua, which I thought was pretty neat. In sum, this CD surpassed my expectations, uniting many different styles of music in a creative program.

Posted by Lucy at the now-defunct Opera Obsession blog

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