Verdi (CD) - Nézet-Séguin, Abdrazakov

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Verdi (CD) - Nézet-Séguin, Abdrazakov

This release marks the debut release of Russian bass Ildar Abdrazakov on the Deutsche Grammophon label, but he has been singing the material in performance, notably at New York's Metropolitan Opera, for some years.

Several factors promise a long, happy tenure at the label. First is that Abdrazakov has stuck with material he knew well, and in which he had something to contribute, rather than simply offering the expected group of operatic hits or even Verdi hits.

There isn't a standard Verdi tune in the bunch, but Abdrazakov approaches them deliberately and with warm familiarity. This is the album's key attraction: Abdrazakov makes a strong case for several pieces that until now have been considered also-rans in the Verdi canon. Most are from the first part of Verdi's career, and several bring to life the very first Verdi opera of all, "Oberto," which is not often performed.

Sample the aria "L'orror del tradimento" for a taste of Abdrazakov's style. Although he played Russian bass Fyodor Chaliapin in a film, he's not quite the same kind of powerhouse singer. Instead, his virtues lie in phrasing and in a certain sense of inhabiting the role. (The big Verdi roles will doubtless come later.) Abdrazakov's intention to dig deeply into early Verdi is indicated by the retention of several lengthy instrumental scene introductions, which give him room for his measured readings, and more generally by fine support from conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin, leading the Orchestre Métropolitain du Grand Montréal and Choeur Métropolitain de Montréal. A very strong debut that may reshape the repertory a bit.

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