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Her booklet note is very good
on 18 February 2013
In her notes Kermes starts from Tosi's 1723 book, the prime source for 18th century opera singing, and in five pages she summarises Tosi's ideas about technique in the light of her own experience. It's the best short introduction to singing the baroque that I've come across.
Kermes' selection of music for the disc is also very interesting, particularly the five arias by Porpora not previously recorded. Some of these are works written to be sung in London in direct competition with Handel's later operas, and they make for illuminating comparison - or they might, if Kermes' practice lived up to the quality of her theory.
But it does'nt. Her natural voice sounds rather tight, her singing of runs is sometimes laboured (unless they are very quick), she has to yelp her way up to high notes and she doesn't even pretend to have a trill - a fatal shortcoming in this repertoire. These problems affect her singing, but worse is her regular failure to sing at all. She prefers to croon into the microphone, using an unsupported head voice, especially in quiet passages. This technique is common among all vocalists who use microphones, and I understand why it pleases some listeners, but it's not what Tosi would have called singing, nor anyone else who uses their voice without a microphone in rooms of any size.
Sony's recording matches Kermes's artificiality with a soft-focus, base-enhanced sound, and a suitably ludicrous artwork presentation.
I will say however in Kermes' favour, that being relatively unprepossessing of both voice and person, she must have outstanding powers of self-promotion to have persuaded Sony to spend this much money on her, not just once, but several times.