I agree wholeheartedly with the reviews of R. Levine and R. Payne. Here we have Verdi's first try at a Shakespeare tragedy, Macbeth, premiered in 1847, with more music, more interraction between the principals, closer to the original intent of the play, than in the later revised 1865 score. The vacillation and weak resolve of the future king, and the machinations of his scheming consort, are given more prominence in this version, making the finale that much more tragic, and closer to the source than the later, abridged, rendition.
All the principals are excellent. Peter Glossop (Macbeth) and Rita Hunter (Lady Macbeth) provide exciting dramatic performances; and John Tomlinson (Banquo) and Kenneth Collins (Macduff) are equally convincing in their roles. All are immensely believable characters. The orchestra, the BBC Concert Orchestra, under John Matheson, play with feeling and dramatic pace.
Verdi had a life-long fascination with Shakespeare's works, starting with Macbeth (1847), and finishing, close to the end of his own life, with Otello (1887) and Falstaff (1893), his two masterpieces. A King Lear was in the works, but that was not to be, regretfully, considering his very personal interest in father-daughter relationships (e.g., Nabucco, Stiffelio, Rigoletto, Aida, etc). This recording of the original version of Macbeth is a worthy tribute from one great genius to another.