Tenor Javier Carmarena opened the penultimate 2016 Rosenblatt Recital with a powerful flourish from Rossini’s Le compte Ory which at times felt out of balance for the otherwise accommodating Wigmore Hall.
Je crois entendre encore from Bizet’s Pearl Fishers imposed a gratifying mood change and saw Carmarena recalibrate his vocal power for the auditorium. What was resulted was exquisite: the taut fragility of his top register and the showman-like dynamic range he deployed, made the lyricism take on an almost miraculous quality in places.
In Donizetti’s Tombe degli avi miei…Fra poco a me ricoverò Camarena’s voice had settled and opened out – fortissimos now suited the interior perfectly, and he succeeded in crafting a plaintive quality with a most remarkable whisper-like articulation on the word ‘morte’.
Similarly, Ed ancor la tremenda porta and Ah! mes amis! Quel jour de fête! saw Camarena steer us through another change of mood with remarkable poise and a gratifying lack of pretension.
The second half took on a darker mood, with Tosti’s Quattro canzoni d’Amaranta altogether more reflective and in places mournful. In the third canzona, In van preghi, in vano aneli, the tenor demonstrated his ability to draw the audience in and leave us hanging with an amazing dynamic range: we weren’t left stranded; only dangled over a precipice, safe in the knowledge that we would, eventually, be pulled back. That is quite some achievement.
The remaining Mexican songs by Lara awere, for me, a bigger gear-shift. These felt more like encore material. In places, the Lara seemed rather polite, almost too western, lacking a much-needed authenticity in order to help the musical transition. Moral’s Besos robados and No niegues que me quisiste were, compared to the Lara, less light in musical style which helped round-off the programme.
Rosenblatt Recitals are consistently uplifting affairs; the audience sees to that. Effortless performers make reviews an uphill struggle. Thursday night’s shimmering applause for Javier Carmarena was undoubtedly well-deserved for an amazing treat. Sometimes, that’s all that needs to be said.