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Competing almost directly against Héroïque, but curiously not duplicating a single track, is Piotr Beczala’s The French Collection. The Polish tenor is a favourite in leading houses worldwide, noted for his burnished tone and sensitive phrasing. This disc emphasises his strengths, starting with a cleanly limned ‘Pourquoi me réveiller’ from Werther and progressing through generally well-known arias by Gounod, Massenet and so on. There are some relative rarities, such as Boieldieu’s La dame blanche and Donizetti’s Dom Sébastien, both worth an airing. I find Beczala’s voice less personal and distinctive than Hymel’s, but I cannot deny his ability to spin a phrase, and to take some risks, such as floating the end of Don José’s aria rather than bawling it, even now a relative rarity. The voice sounds large, with an exciting element of squillo, and it’s interesting to see that the tenor is singing his first Lohengrin in 2016, a judicious choice of role. He is ably accompanied by the Manon of Diana Damrau, though the sheer eroticism of the Act III duet eludes them. Alain Altinoglu conducts the Orchestre de l’Opéra national de Lyon with real flair, the sound is good, and this won’t disappoint the tenor’s fans.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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