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Our third mezzo is Karine Deshayes, who offers us a disc of Rossini – Vie de Rossini. Like Houtzeel, Deshayes’ voice is smooth and accomplished, with a softgrain and beautiful legato. She also has excellent coloratura and seems pretty unfazed by Rossini’s technical demands. Well, almost. but not quite: her conductor, Raphael Merlin, pushes her to the limits of possibility no matter how good her technique. The opening aria, ‘Tanti affetti’ from La donna del lago, is a prime example, taken at such a speed that Deshayes barely has time to snatch breath before she’s offagain, hurtling up and down scales at a reckless pace. Consequently, her tone sometimes becomes shrill as she ascends, as well it might. Merlin conducts metronomically with little sense of give and take, and his idea of a Rossinian crescendo is to get louder at a gallop. Thankfully, Deshayes gets the chance to breath in the cantata Giovanna d’Arco, where her steady tone and vocal charm are winning. But she doesn’t seem overly interested in delineating character – her Desdemona sounds much like her Rosina. It’s probably difficult to think much about anything when you’re going from zero to 90 in three seconds.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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