Nathalie Stutzmann’s new disc Heroes in the Shadows is an impressive demonstration of this artist’s multitude of musical talents, as she takes centre stage both as conductor and contralto soloist.

The singer possesses a handsome contralto voice and demonstrates superb control over her instrument. Her fantastic coloratura technique is shown in the faster, flamboyant arias, most notably on the opening Dover giustizia, amor from Ariodante. Her musicality is laid bare during Non so se sia la speme from Serse, where she demonstrates instinctive understanding for colour and phrasing. She often reduces her vibrato during points of harmonic tension, which serves to highlight the drama in the ensuing resolutions. Despite her virtuosity, Stutzmann never overdoes vocal pyrotechnics during da capo sections, preferring to subtly augment the vocal line with occasional passing tones and trills. Philippe Jaroussky was a delightful choice for guest artist, and sings the duet Son nata a lagrimar from Giulio Cesare. His light, clean countertenor provides a balance for Stutzmann’s meatier tone. The orchestra, Orfeo 55, play with a bristling energy throughout. Cello soloist Patrick Langot, is to be commended for his delicate solo during Son qual stanco Pellegrino

Heroes from the Shadows shows why Stutzmann has succeeded as both vocalist and conductor. There may be more beautiful voices, but this record reveals her fine ear for musical design.

Purchase this album on iTunes: Heroes from the Shadows – Nathalie Stutzmann

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