This very fine CD is part of a series called "The Singers"
created by Decca in tribute to some of the greatest voices of the 20th century.Birgit Nilsson is certainly one of them. Obviously the intent is to
give a good cross section of the types of repertory and range of Ms. Nilsson magnificent voice, both for the
uninitiated, and the afficionado.It begins with works of early German Romantic opera (Beethoven and Weber), followed by Verdi, then Wagner and finally rounding up with some sacred pieces.
This is quite a good selection of musical styles.
As far as her range and emotional depth ,one of my favorites are Agatha's wonderful aria from Weber's Freischutz with the soft, piano, legato of the first part and the contrasting glorious agitato of the second.
Of course her Isolde is unforgettable and here we are treated to the Liebestod with the never ending wave upon wave of emotion (from her celebrated complete Tristan recording with Karl Bohm conducting).It builds and builds until it is almost impossible to endure it, coming to that great climax and ending in everlasting peace. One of the most beautiful things ever written, and this has always been Nilsson's great triumphs.
For superb piano singing listen to Abigaille's great aria in the first act of Nabucco. A great challenge for singers.Same is true for Pace,pace mio Dio from
La Forza del Destino, always a favorite of sopranos.
Coming to the other Wagner selections,like the ones from the Ring, one however is left somewhat disappointed, not by the singer, but Decca's choice of excerpts. The bits from the Walkure's first act are what people call "bleeding chunks of Wagner", giving us a taste, but each coming to an abrupt end just as things heat up.I realize that 70 minutes is awfully short time to give her justice, but perhaps some alternate venue, such as the complete Immolation scene ( with Solti, not Bohm)
instead of the Walkure excerpts would have been better.
I mention Solti, because his Ring with Nilsson has been
one of the great triumphs of Decca.
I am happy, however, about the inclusion of a joyful, exuberant, "Hallenaria" from Tannhauser showing off her laser-like voice, which Irving Kolodin refers to as "aural adrenalin".
The recording is in CD-ROM format,but playable on any CD or DVD Audio equipment as well as on the computer.There are lots of extras such as picture gallery, texts etc.Sound is excellent.It is handsomely packaged and is good value for the money. I wouln't hesitate to recommend it to any music lover.