Giuseppe Verdi once said to a critic who panned the "Anvil Chorus" from IL TROVATORE that he was glad he didn't like it, saw his disdain as an endorsement of the music's validity, and knew that if he gave it to an organ grinder; everyone in Italy would be singing it before long. Verdi was correct. Verdi's genius seems to come not just from knowing how to write music, but how to write music that is both sophisticated and entertaining. For those who love Verdi, this recording will be a gem. It contains a variety of pieces from sacred music, romances, drinking songs and ballads. Each has a charm that allows it to stand alone. Yet listeners will also find chords and tunes that are varied in later Verdi operas.
The songs are written for piano and voice. Tenor Dennis O'Neill performs the songs with a certain gusto that demonstrates not just his vocal ability, but also his familiarity with Verdi's music. He is accompanied by pianist Ingrid Surgenor. While O'Neill's singing is what listeners notice, it's difficult not to impressed by Surgenor's accompaniment as well.
This disc is a must for anyone who loves Verdi's music. Since the song cycles of many of the composers are no longer familiar with a general audience, this disc from Naxos will be greatly appreciated by many listeners. It may also be of interest to people who enjoy German lieder of Schubert and Schumann.