on 21 September 2011
Recorded some 2 years before José Carreras was diagnosed with Leukemia, this is another great example of the results that Giuseppe Sinopoli was achieving with the Philharmonia Orchestra and DG at the time.
An all star line up (with the likes of Sir John Tomlinson and Juan Pons in smaller roles,) this set combines quality singing and a lush orchestral sound.
Spread over 3 discs but at the time of writing at a superb price, this is a modern classic recording not to be missed.
on 20 December 2012
I was pleasantly surprised by this recording. I suppose I was prejudiced on a number of points - I didn't think Carreras had the right weight of voice, I knew about Plowright's vocal demise and I have two recordings (with Price on RCA and Tebaldi on Decca) that are easily my favourites.
To begin with Sinopoli, like Muti, have an affinity with Verdi, though Sinopoli tends to slow things down they both are uncompromisingly loyal to the score. Sinopoli makes the Philharmonia revel in the textures of the music. They produce a heavier, darker sound than one would expect.
I very much enjoyed listening to Plowright - she is secure, passionate and doesn't force her upper range, which is not what I had anticipated. Goodness knows why her voice declined to the point of relaunching herself as a mezzo.
Carreras fits Don Alvaro well. He has the delicacy of tone that is certainly missing with the likes of Tucker or del Monaco, and his duet with Don Carlo is beautifully sung.
I like Bruson, he may not have the strongest lower range but his tone is pleasant and his upper range secure and confident.
Gramophone said Baltsa, as Preziosilla, was "the best we have yet on record" - I like her immensely but Cossotto and Verrett are certainly better.
The supporting cast of Tomlinson, Burchuladze and Pons are all up for the job. There are better (Corena, Tozzi, Siepi) but I'm not going to nitpick.
It's a great recording, not the best, but four stars would be ungracious.