Top critical review
High C's are risky and can be rough.
24 January 2017
I was looking through my collection today for something different and found this disc which I'd forgotten. I've always been a Flórez fan, so I thought, 'Here's something I'll enjoy'. Regrettably, I now know why I'd forgotten it. I am a little surprised by the highly complimentary reviews on this page. Several of the items on this disc are disappointing, in that they show signs of tiredness in the voice and some weakening of technique. Flórez has always been a man of the high C's and he has previously shown an ability to pluck them out of the air like cherries from a tree. But there is now, occasionally, resort to that old tenor trick of going for a lower note and then sliding up to the true note. And some of his high notes are no longer too pleasant to listen to. Some of them are shouted, some are more like a shriek - they remind one of Rossini's cruel comment about Gilbert-Louis Duprez' attempts at the high C with full voice (do di petto) as 'the squawk of a capon having its throat cut'.
It pains me to write like this about someone whose work I have previously greatly admired and I must add that there is some fine legato singing here in several of the arias, especially from 'La Favorite', and a brief but very beautiful falsetto in 'Viens, gentille dame'. Overall, however, his interpretation of these French works does not match the achievement of Alagna's early collection of French arias. If you would like to hear how 'Ah, leve-toi, soleil' should be sung, listen to Alagna's Covent Garden performance of 1994 as available on Youtube.
I have written in my review of his disc 'Santo' of Flórez' superb performance of the tenor arias from Handel's 'Messiah'. I wish he would mine that field rather than seeking constantly displaying his upper register, which is, sadly, beginning to show signs of wear and tear. If you buy this album you may well, like the other reviewers, find much to admire; on the other hand, you may, like me, listen and then put it on the shelf and forget it for a year.