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The Beauty & The Voice - The Complete Early Performances
The Beauty & The Voice - The Complete Early Performances
Offered by Music-Shop
Price: 11.88

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Beauty OF The Voice, 29 April 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
For those out there who aren’t familiar with Anna Moffo, please take my advice: invest a little over 10, receive this 10-CD boxed set and then wonder why, oh why, this wonderful soprano has been so desperately under-rated for so long.
Those who know of her remarkable talents should be extremely grateful that someone has taken the time and the trouble to produce a compilation of Miss Moffo’s early recordings. It proves that not only was her soprano voice stunningly beautiful, but that, even at a young age, there was subtlety and genuine artistry in her singing. Ignore the irrelevant distractions about her physical beauty – these are CDs to LISTEN to, not to watch. It may have been a rare treat to see a woman on stage who actually looked like the heroine she was portraying, but the important thing here is the voice. And what a voice it was.
The word most commonly used to describe Anna Moffo’s voice is sensuous. I would also describe it as open and honest. Moffo sang with an extraordinary combination of freedom but with control and technique – probably more than just about anyone I can think of. Strange terms to describe an opera singer maybe, but that is the first impression I get listening to her. It was an essentially lyric soprano, light enough in the early years to make her a delightful Mozart soubrette, but with plenty of fullness and body to the voice and it quickly developed to have appreciable power too. Listen to Butterfly’s death scene for proof of that, recorded when still only twenty five. In addition, the voice had enough agility and range to allow her to tackle coloratura as well. The very first track from “the barber of Seville” shows this ability, although the final top F (yes, F) is just a little tight.
Before I go any further, a couple of points to note: firstly, you will not find every recording she made between 1955 and 1960 in this set. For example only two of the eight arias on the superb “Beige” album conducted by Tullio Serafin can be found here and the two selections are, in my opinion, not the best examples of Moffo’s art. More puzzling is that the omissions are not due to lack of space. The particular disk (No. 7) is only 47 mins and 55 seconds in length, leaving an ample 33 minutes for the other six arias. Fortunately, the “Beige” album is available separately and is highly recommended (there is simply no finer Jewel song to be found anywhere).
The other point is not to expect every cut on this 10-CD set to feature Miss Moffo. Of the total of 90 tracks here, only around half contain any contribution from the honey-voiced soprano. The remainder are generally extracts from complete opera recordings (many of which feature other great singers) or, in the unusual case of “Il filosofo di campagna”, the entire recording. This is not in itself a bad thing, but anyone expecting wall-to-wall Moffo (I can think of worse ideas) may be a little surprised.
As Amazon does not provide a full track listing (quite understandably), the following summary may be a useful reference:
La fiamma (cond. Molinari-Pradelli) rec. 1955 (extracts)
La boheme (Votto) 1956 (extracts – Moffo as Musetta to Callas’ Mimi)
Falstaff (Karajan) 1956 (extracts)
La sonnambula (Bartoletti) 1956 (extracts)
Il filosofo di campagna (Fasano) 1956 (complete opera)
Don Giovanni (Rosbaud) 1956 (extracts)
Madama Butterfly (Leinsdorf) 1957 (extracts)
Capriccio (Sawallisch) 1957 (extracts)
Mozart arias (Galliera) 1958 (complete recital album)
Coloratura arias (Davis) 1959 - not 1958 as in the CD notes (complete recital album)
Le nozze di Figaro (Giulini) 1959 (extracts)
The “Beige” album (Serafin) 1960 (extracts)
La figlia del reggimento (Mannino) 1960 (extracts)
La traviata (Previtali) 1960 (extracts)
Yes, Miss Moffo (1932-2006) was a busy girl in the recording studio in 1956! In fact she also made a film of Butterfly for Italian TV early that same year – a performance that launched her international career. As her fans will know, she became even busier - too much so - in the 1960’s and this was one of the contributory factors leading to the premature decline and eventual collapse of her once glorious instrument.
Curiously, the back cover notes mention that Anna played for the Italian women’s hockey team - I’m not entirely sure that’s true!
My hope is that the compiler of this set will start considering a further compilation set encompassing the next five or six years of Anna’s recording heritage. This would then take in the wonderful “Songs of the Auvergne” with Stokowski, La Boheme (with Moffo as Mimi), Rigoletto, Luisa Miller, La Rondine, Lucia di Lammermoor and – if it becomes available in digital format – the quite astounding recording of “Great Verdi Arias” with Franco Ferrara (surely one of the finest recital albums by any soprano?) Why this remains unavailable in CD form is both a mystery and a scandal. I am fortunate enough to have a copy in vinyl – it was recorded in 1963 when she was at the absolute peak of her powers and it is absolutely stunning.
It should be said that all of the recordings in this compilation are available separately but would cost many, many times the price of this boxed set.
Regarding the presentation of the set, it is very professional, particularly given the budget price. Each disk is sheathed in a cardboard wallet, the front essentially repeating the same photo of Miss Moffo with the number 1 to 10. (The choice of photograph is also something of a puzzle: why have a collection of recordings made in her early career and then show a photograph taken many years later when she was well into her thirties?) The reverse of the wallets gives the track listing, naming featured artists, conductors, dates etc. etc. The ten cardboard wallets are then housed in a substantial cardboard box, with the lid hinged at the top. Print quality is acceptable, if not exemplary but more importantly, the transfer quality of the individual recordings is very good.
All in all then, this is a fine collection and at a little over 10, truly astonishing value. It is an excellent introduction to the spectacular young voice of Anna Moffo, an artist who was probably more famed in her time for her physical beauty than for her voice. This collection demonstrates that assessment to be flawed. Beautiful as she was, her voice was even more beautiful. Don’t hesitate – you will not find eight and a half hours of such wonderful singing for anywhere near the price.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 20, 2013 6:16 PM BST

Verdi Arias
Verdi Arias
Price: 13.93

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At last! A truly remarkable voice, 14 Oct 2011
This review is from: Verdi Arias (Audio CD)
I would defy anyone who knows anything whatsoever about singing to hear just a few seconds of this disk without thinking - and probably saying out loud - "Wow! What a voice!"
Miss Radvanovsky has one of those incredibly rare instruments where the most glorious, full, natural soprano sound simply pours out when she opens her mouth. Vocally, I would have to go back to either Leontyne Price or possibly Elena Suliotis at her best - to recall a voice delivered with such refreshing freedom and fullness of tone. The voice is large but not heavy, with a clarion bloom and it is surprisingly agile (if not perhaps to true coloratura standards). It is a genuine force of nature with an easy and totally unforced top register, soaring up to an effortless E in altissimo. More than that, she possesses a lovely rich (and deep) lower register of which many a mezzo would be proud.
By comparison her contemporaries sound trained, careful and tonally restricted.
Having said that, not everything on this disk matches her stupendous vocal talent. It could be argued that there is little new in her interpretation of these arias, which are, in themselves a fairly predictable selection. Some of her diction / pronunciation is a little off kilter. More importantly, the conductor, Constantine Orbelian, seems to favour some pretty eccentric changes of tempi, pace and rhythmic impetus, missing out on a number of powerful dramatic moments which leave you unsatisfied - almost as though he was happy to rely on his soprano to deliver all of the "moments of truth" and relegating his orchestra, the Philharmonia of Russia, to little more than an accompaniment. My final criticism is of the mediocre recording quality of the orchestra. The recording engineers need to study how to give the orchestra some presence in the mix - maybe the location played a part but the sound quality is barely average.
However, none of these gripes should deter you one iota from hearing by far the most exciting, natural vocal talent to emerge for many years. Almost without exception, singers of the last twenty or thirty years have been schooled to focus on control to the point where singing with any degree of freedom (and that word which rarely springs to mind in modern operatic performances, excitement) are sacrificed. Miss Radvanovsky treats that dubious mantra with the contempt it deserves and all praise to her for that. Her career has taken longer to flourish than it should have but at last her sheer vocal talent has been recognised. I look forward to seeing this lady live on stage and to building what I imagine could be a full collection of her recordings.

Arias from Faust, La Boheme, Dinorah, Carmen, Semiramide, Turandot, Lakme
Arias from Faust, La Boheme, Dinorah, Carmen, Semiramide, Turandot, Lakme

5.0 out of 5 stars Stunningly beautiful, 11 Sep 2011
For those who want to hear just how sublime the human voice can be, just buy this CD. If you haven't heard of Anna Moffo you will wonder why when you listen to the integrity and sheer vocal glamour she brought to her singing.
At least three of the selections on this disk are, in my opinion, unsurpassed: the Faust and the two all too brief arias from Turandot. Simply glorious.
Three more are almost just as remarkable - Micaela's aria, Dinorah and the Boheme.
In her prime - and this was recorded very much in her prime - Moffo had an extraordinary ability to control vibrato in order to convey emotion. She could quicken it to suggest excitement or slow it almost to a tremble for truly affecting pathos. Sounds weird? Listen and I think you'll recognise this trick quite easily. She does this better than anyone I know and manages to sound drop-dead gorgeous throughout.
The remaining two selections (the Bell Song and Bel raggio lusinghier) are possibly the only recordings that fall slightly below this remarkable standard, but they are still wonderfully sung.
Overall, a great sampling of a dreadfully under-appreciated artist, beautifully recorded. This CD shows up a number of "bigger" names and their vocal shortcomings. Buy it.

Light After Dark
Light After Dark
Price: 4.24

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great voice but . . ., 20 April 2011
This review is from: Light After Dark (Audio CD)
This is a really frustrating album. I want to love it because Clare Maguire has a great voice. In fact she has more than one voice - one low, one high (listen to Bullet and then Happiest Pretenders - you won't believe it's the same singer). And she has soul.
But - and sadly it's a big but - just about everything else could be better. The songs themselves are OK, the lyrics being pretty lame, but the production . . . ! It's a throwback to the 1980's of Jennifer Rush and Co, with big synths, reverbed drums and it's all too polished, overblown and MOR. She has a big voice but she knows how to use it and she does the soft tender stuff really well. Unfortunately someone with very little imagination has said: "Strong voice, she can do the power ballads - we'll give her the Shirley Bassey treatment". That's worse than lazy, that's bordering on criminal.
I heard Miss M supporting The Script a few weeks back and was sufficiently impressed by her singing to buy the CD, but whereas her live performance blew me away, her talent is just swamped in the studio recording. She needs a much more minimal instrumental backing to let her real vocal talent shine through - a more unplugged, raw sound from this century would help. I'd love to hear what someone like Mark Ronson could do with that voice. Yes, you heard me. Mark Ronson.
Clare Maguire is a truly talented vocalist, rather wasted on average material and poor production. The lady is just crying out for a producer who knows how to really showcase her talent. I'm hoping there's one out there that has heard what she can do and gives her sound a bit of a makeover. Otherwise I suspect she may disappear from view and that would be a great shame.

Verdi: La Traviata
Verdi: La Traviata

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent, 6 Jan 2010
This review is from: Verdi: La Traviata (Audio CD)
I have a number of recordings of this masterpiece (Callas 1955 live at La Scala, Caballe, Sills etc.) and without making pointless comparisons, this is overall the best of them all. I am well aware that people have their favourite performers and can't resist quibbling about who is better than whom but here is my objective-as-I-can-be assessment:
First of all, Previtali conducts with a sure and certain grasp on what he wants from the score - there is excitement, pathos and drama in all the right places, underpinned by a tangible sense of musicality. The pacing and drive of the music is just about perfect. On a good quality hi-fi system this SACD recording reveals these attributes to even better effect than the standard RCA version and has to be recommended as the preferred choice.
Anna Moffo is a stunning Violetta. For me, her Sempre Libera is quite simply the best on record and the heart-wrenching moments are understated but powerful. Her performance throughout is straightforward and uncomplicated, but she sings with extraordinary beauty and I defy all but the hardest hearted listener not to be genuinely moved. She remains an inexplicably underrated artist.
Richard Tucker will never please everyone - he is simply too much of a dramatic tenor to please those who prefer the lyric variety. But boy, he can sing! He invests his performance with such passion that you cannot help but believe in his performance. OK, he may sound too old for Violetta, but I've heard many a celebrated Violetta who sounds too old for their Alfredo (and that really doesn't work!) When you put aside the prejudices, Tucker does a great job.
Then we have Robert Merrill as his father. Merrill has the sort of baritone that makes almost every rival sound thin and strained. His characterisation may bring no really new insight to the role but it is sung with feeling, sensitivity and conviction. And of course the tone is just glorious.
The supporting cast are all adequate or better and it is frustratingly difficult to find much to criticise in what is an all-round gem.
Finally, where some recordings impress initially and then sit on the shelf unplayed, this one improves with each listening - it can really get under your skin. No hesitation on this one - Buy it.

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