Joyce DiDonato and Antonio Pappano – at the piano rather than on the conductor’s podium – opened the 2014-15 season at London’s Wigmore Hall with a dazzling programme of song, emphasizing Italy and the USA. Recorded live on this 2-CD set, the two artists were described by The Times as “mezzo diva supreme” and “golden maestro and piano accompanist to the stars” The first item on the programme was Haydn’s dramatic cantata Arianna a Naxos (which, back in 2003, also launched DiDonato’s debut recital at Wigmore Hall). As the Guardian wrote, DiDonato excelled in presenting “the abandoned heroine’s progression from grief to fury with all her vocal skills to the fore and Antonio Pappano – rarely heard these days as an accompanist, but an absolute master of the art – seconding her every gesture.” The Times described the interpretation as “incandescent … Daring vocal pirouettes, vivid acting, with dynamic swings, amazing breath control.” Then came two songs by a composer who has played a defining role in Joyce DiDonato’s operatic career – Rossini (her unforgettable collaboration with Pappano on Il barbiere di Siviglia at Covent Garden is captured on a Warner Classics DVD 5099969458194 – and four luscious late-Romantic numbers written in 1908 by the little-known Neapolitan composer Francesco Santoliquido.
1. Arianna a Naxos, Hob.XXVIb: 2
2. Beltà crudele
3. Les soirées musicales: No. 8 La danza
4. I canti della sera: I. L'assiolo canta
5. I canti della sera: II. Alba di luna sul bosco
6. I canti della sera: III. Tristezza crepuscolare
7. I canti della sera: IV. L'incontro
8. Non ti scordar di me!
1. Beautiful Dreamer
2. Leave it to Jane, Act 2: The Siren's Song
3. Oh, My Dear!: Go Little Boat
4. Irish Songs: I. Lovely Jimmie
5. Love in the Dictionary
6. Show Boat, Act 1: "Life Upon the Wicked Stage"
7. The Golden Apple, Act 1: "Lazy Afternoon"
8. Cabaret Songs, Volume 1: Amor
9. Magdalena, Act 1: "Food for Thought"
10. Show Boat, Act 1: "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man"
11. Babes in Arms: My Funny Valentine
12. Very Warm for May: "All the Things You Are"
13. I Love a Piano
14. Over the Rainbow