Rossini, Virtuoso Arias, L. Brownlee, Kaunas City Symphony Orchestra, C. Orbelian (Delos, 2014)
Anyone who has ever taken voice lessons, including yours truly, has sung at least one of the first four songs on this program, working from Schirmer's classic collection of Twenty-Four Italian Songs and Arias. They are sturdy, overdone pieces, hardly scintillating fare, and Brownlee did nothing to make them stand out in any particular way, reinforcing my impression that he is not really a natural recitalist. His busily intense vibrato went a little haywire on the first one, Torelli's Tu lo sai, although that may have just been nerves, since in other slow pieces, like Scarlatti's O cessate di piagarmi, the vibrato was less noticeable. As in his opera repertory, he excels in fast pieces with lots of runs, so Legrenzi's Che fiero costume was better suited to him, although Rossini's careening La Danza posed some challenges to his accompanist, company director Kim Pensinger Witman, although in all other respects, she was a sensitive musical partner, as always.
Joan Reinthaler, Here’s why Lawrence Brownlee is a rising opera star (Washington Post, March 29)
Peter Benecke, Stunning Brownlee Recital in Weill Capped by High C's (Classical Sonoma, March 11)