Some girls… and a Rolling Stone (II): Elena Moșuc – A Portrait

Brunch with Elena Moșuc

In 2015, Sony Classical produced a 3 CD set – Elena Moșuc: A Portrait. Fortunately, you can find this album in the Romanian shops, for a reasonable price, of around 13 euros.

In fact, it is the re-editing of some of the soprano’s older albums: Au jardin de mon cœur (1999), Mozart Portrait (2000) and Notre amour (2002). I would have liked this set to include the recent Donizetti Heroines (2013), which I reviewed on this blog. Each of the three CDs were commented when they appeared, but now we have the perspective offered by time, that gives us the chance to re-analyse them and, why not, to fall again in love with this voice.


Au jardin de mon cœur was Elena Moșuc’s most appreciated album. And for very good reasons: a fresh voice, whose agility, exercised in the French repertoire, adds a plus of sensuality. These are the years of the beginning, in Zürich, when the Swiss opera had just acquired a great coloratura voice. Anyone who listened to Où va la jeune Indoue from Lakmé could not avoid comparing her virtuosity with Mady Mesplé, and her expressivity with Natalie Dessay, who had just recorded Delibes’ opera for EMI. Then Caro nome from Rigoletto, doing justice to the coloratura sopranos, after many years in which the verismo-style had made such an impression in singing Gilda’s role. There are only two arias, the most beautiful on this CD full of many other musical acrobatics from Mozart, Donizetti or Bellini, but also of unexpected beauties, from Gounod or Charpentier.

The second CD is Mozart Portrait, where we hear the first limits of the voice from that period of Elena Moșuc’s career, when the stratospheric sounds suited her perfectly. Obviously, the Countess in Le nozze di Figaro or Donna Anna in Don Giovanni were not her strong point, as expressivity, and the orchestra, conducted by Camil Marinescu, cannot avoid the impression of platitude. Today, when the soprano’s timbre has darkened, maybe these roles could have another consistency, especially if we think also of the direction her repertory has taken. On the other hand, Königin der Nacht from Die Zauberflöte had to be preserved on disc, as it is a proof for an acute register that made history, and gave us hopes that the days of a Roberta Peters might have returned. In this role, besides the very high notes sung with insolent easiness, there is also a musical voluptuousness, a feminine charm that cannot be denied. The two concerto arias are very appealing, but the fragments from Exultate, jubilate are the most pleasant surprise: sacred music and vocal agility go hand in hand, as they should, and the pyrotechnics of the high notes do not   divert the religious approach.

The disc I liked the most is the last one, Notre amour. Romanian and French lieds. A soprano voice and a piano (Sabine Vatin). And a lot of art. Vocal intellectuality. I think this is the best argument for George Enescu’s music, present here with Sept chansons de Clément Marot, Op. 15, a series of songs dominated by refinement and subtlety, another face of our national composer. This is not an accidental choice, as these creations stay under the influence of French music, mainly of Fauré, Enescu’s professor. Clément Marot is not just a poet, but one of the classical French poets, member of La Pléiade. An important part of this disc contains lieds by Chausson, Fauré and Debussy, which blend perfectly with Enescu, and prove that France has the same reasons as Romania to claim him culturally. The last 10 tracks on this CD (and of the set) belong to Romanian composers. Elena Moșuc follows here a similar approach as Angela Gheorghiu: the promotion of a series of Romanian compositions, a subjective choice to a certain extent, as many of them have themes of traditional inspiration, which makes them less logical in the general context (Zorile-și mâna cerbii de foc by Carmen Petra-Basacopol, Note de primăvară by Felicia Donceanu, Doina Stăncuței and Floricică de pe apă, by Tiberiu Brediceanu are just a few examples). Besides them, the well-known Somnoroase păsărele by Vasile Spătărelu does nothing else but completing a rather heterogeneous image, that stresses even more the distance between Enescu and his epigones.

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