Petre Munteanu, Tenor
Arias and songs by Handel, Bellini, Schubert, Wolf, Debussy, Bartók,
Buzzi-Peccia, and Donaudy (plus Italian folksongs).
tenor, various accompanists, orchestras, and conductors.
Symposium 1332 (F) (AAD?)
This disc offers a varied and fascinating glimpse into the artistry
of Rumanian lyric tenor, Petre Munteanu (1919-1988). Munteanu
an important career in Europe as an operatic, concert, and recital
artist. He also made several fine commercial recordings, including
Ernesto in a mid-50s Don Pasquale, released on the Philips
label. Unfortunately the catalogue indicates that only two Munteanu
recordings are currently
available—a MYTO release of a 1956 Stuttgart broadcast of Mozart’s
Zaide, and this Symposium recital.
Petre Munteanu was not what one might call a “flashy” singer.
His voice was neither large, nor particularly remarkable in its upper
register. However, it was a quite lovely voice, with a controlled,
focused vibrato, and admirable consistency throughout the registers.
was also an exceptionally subtle artist, with crystal-clear diction,
and the ability to produce a wide variety of colors and dynamics. His
breath control was exceptional, allowing him to spin long elegant lines,
and to engage in a masterful (and always tasteful) use of rubato. For
the most part, his legato was exemplary too, although occasionally,
he did resort to a delicate use of aspirates. The recordings on this
span the years 1943-1977, and document that Petre Munteanu was able
to maintain a high level of artistic and vocal achievement throughout
The Symposium disc features Munteanu in repertoire that spans several
centuries and five languages (Italian, German, Hungarian, French, and
Spanish). The recordings are taken from the singer’s personal
collection . I don’t think there is a weak link among them. Among
my personal favorites are three Bellini chamber songs (“Il fervido
luna,” and “Malinconia”). Munteanu sings these intimate
songs with a tender, affectionate, approach usually lacking in more “operatic” interpretations.
To my ears, this is all for the better. Munteanu also performs a series
of Debussy songs with an infectious sparkle and mastery of light and
Rarities include Schubert’s Der Hirt auf Dem Felsen—usually
the province of sopranos—and Bartók’s Dorfszenen,
sung in the original Hungarian. A leisurely and ravishing interpretation
of Donaudy’s “O del mio amato ben”—one of the
best I’ve ever heard—brings the recital to a most satisfying
The sound is generally quite fine, although the Bartók cycle suffers
from some distortion. The liner notes include a biography of Munteanu
and brief discussion of the recordings. It’s regrettable that
no texts or translations are included, particularly given the rarity
a good portion of the repertoire. But my gratitude to Symposium for
documenting the artistry of this superb, but neglected artist far outweighs
I might have over the omission.
K.M. (Sept. 2003)