The Critics: Records

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Donizetti: L'elisir d'amore. Roberto Alagna, Angela Gheorghiu, Lyon Opera/ Evelino Pido (Decca, 2xCD). Well, here they are again: opera's own Bonnie and Clyde raiding another corner of the repertory and going for those big denomination notes - by which I mean full, fat vocal delivery although hard cash no doubt comes into the equation somewhere. As Alagna is assigned to EMI and Gheorghiu to Decca, their joint activity alternates between the two, and Gheorghiu's company claim this release. But L'elisir is the tenor's opera insofar as he takes the most prominent aria; and for once Alagna gets the better of his wife on disc, with well-turned- out bel canto singing, passionate but elegant, no sign of strain, and youthful. The remainder of the cast is mostly young as well, with a refined Belcore from Roberto Scaltriti, and alert conducting. There are technically more stunning L'elisirs around but few obvious rivals among recent issues - except for Alagna's own, earlier Erato recording, made the pre-Gheorghiu days. Michael White


Eastwood After Hours (Malpaso/Warner Brothers, CD). Terrific recording of a tribute to Clint concert at Carnegie Hall, with a big band directed by John Faddis and conducted by Lennie Niehaus. The music both spans Clint's screen career and his Catholic jazz tastes. Against all the odds, the results is magnificent, big, brassy jazz, with enough great cameos and scene-stealing walk-on parts to subvert the normal context of the worthy festshrift. Clint even plays piano in a - probably wisely - very brief appearance.