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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent singing and convincing drama - order your copy now
An excellent recording of an opera which gets less attention that it deserves. All numbers are performed brilliantly. Margaret Price as Amelia sings superbly with a creamy tone, which only becomes harsh under pressure in a few places - the best I have heard her on record. Kathleen Battle sings the part of the page with characteristic flair (both arias and especially the...
Published on 30 Dec 2001 by L. J. Heighton

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars poor microphone placement spoils a decent performance
Decca seems to have had some trouble in the early digital days getting the voices in opera recordings into a good relation with the microphones. One felt this in much of the "Mefistofele" recording with De Fabriitis, and it's true again here. When voices of the quality of Pavarotti, Margaret Price, Renato Bruson, and Christa Ludwig are robbed of their bloom, you know...
Published 7 months ago by Stanley Crowe


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars poor microphone placement spoils a decent performance, 20 Jan 2014
By 
Stanley Crowe (Greenville, SC) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Verdi: Un Ballo in Maschera (Audio CD)
Decca seems to have had some trouble in the early digital days getting the voices in opera recordings into a good relation with the microphones. One felt this in much of the "Mefistofele" recording with De Fabriitis, and it's true again here. When voices of the quality of Pavarotti, Margaret Price, Renato Bruson, and Christa Ludwig are robbed of their bloom, you know that the microphone placements are not ideal. The recording here hardens the voices and exposes and exaggerates the natural vibrato. Leinsdorf's recording with Bergonzi and Leontyne Price is still the must-have recording of this opera, and if you want to hear Margaret Price in good digital sound, her "Otello" recording with Cossutta was better balanced. Price's singing here is fine, if you can get past the problems with the sound, though it really isn't quite in the Leontyne Price league in this music, where the voice is perfectly suited to middle-period Verdi. Pavarotti isn't bad, but he lacks the grace, elegance, and wit that Bergonzi (and before him, Gigli) brings to the music. Bruson is a more refined singer than Merrill is for Leinsdorf, but Merrill, in great voice, gave a great performance as Renato, even if he has a couple of clumsy moments, and Bruson is less intense by comparison. Christa Ludwig sings well as Ulrica, but you really need a bigger, more Italianate voice to scare the pants off you in this role. Kathleen Battle is a pert Oscar. More importantly, though, and I'm sorry to say it, Solti is disappointing. He's atmospheric at the beginnings of the Ulrica scene and right before "Ecco l'orrido campo," but he fails to shape the big ensembles and the love duet, so that they don't seem to flow as naturally as they do with Leinsdorf (and Muti and Abbado, for that matter). So -- go for Leinsdorf on RCA. Bergonzi has the perfect voice for Riccardo, and the love duet with Price is one of the great moments of recorded operatic music. Bergonzi's death scene too is just perfectly done.

NOTE: The DG DVD of a 1991 performance at the MET with Pavarotti and Millo does justice to the voices. By that time, Pavarotti was 55, but he sounds lovely. Aprile Millo's voice is better suited to this music than Margaret Price's, and it too is well caught by the recording (and she sings well, too). Levine is on his game, and the whole thing moves and breathes in a way that Solti's doesn't quite match. If I had to guess, I would say that Levine knows this music inside and out, and that Solti, a fine opera conductor of Wagner and Mozart, just wasn't all that familiar with "Ballo."
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent singing and convincing drama - order your copy now, 30 Dec 2001
By 
L. J. Heighton (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Verdi: Un Ballo in Maschera (Audio CD)
An excellent recording of an opera which gets less attention that it deserves. All numbers are performed brilliantly. Margaret Price as Amelia sings superbly with a creamy tone, which only becomes harsh under pressure in a few places - the best I have heard her on record. Kathleen Battle sings the part of the page with characteristic flair (both arias and especially the ensemble "Ah! di che fulgor" in the final act are superb) and Christa Ludwig is dark-toned and threatening as the witch Ulrica, a small but memorable contribution. Among the men, Pavarotti can be rather loud and brash in places but less so than on other recordings and proves that he can sing sensitively. (The love duet in Act II is one of Verdi's most passionate and is sung convincingly by both principals). Renato Bruson sings his arias well and is very convincing in the last act but the voice tends to get lost in the big set-pieces. All the small roles are well sung and chorus and orchestra contribute brilliantly under the control of Solti - proving his skill in middle-Verdi. Whole-heartedly recommend this to any opera lover - passion, sorcery, jealousy and murder; the perfect combination. Should be part of every collection. Order it now!
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Electric recording, 9 Aug 2011
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Per Arne Rudberg "P-A Rudberg" (Vallentuna, Sweden) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Verdi: Un Ballo in Maschera (Audio CD)
Who said that Pavarotti just had a beautiful voice? In this recording he shows that he can act with the voice. In "E scherzo..." I get goose-bumps because I can hear his ambivalence.
Price is acceptable. Bruson not fully acceptable since his voice is lacking in agility. Battle is a pure joy to hear. Ludwig is a surprisingly good Ulrica.
Solti - a genius. The conducting is electric!
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6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great recording, 3 May 2002
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This review is from: Verdi: Un Ballo in Maschera (Audio CD)
Some unfairly dismiss Un Ballo as one of the lesser Verdi operas. But it is a fine work that deserves far more attention and respect, and this lavish recording brings out the beauty of this opera.
The only other un Ballo recording that equals this is von Karajan's take with Placido Domingo and Sumi Jo. Both offerings are great and offer superb clear transfers. However, Solti provides a slower, fluid, more even pace than von Karajan, and the cast is overall slightly better than the von Karajan recording. However, Placido Domingo in the von Karajan recording sounds more suited to the role than Pavorotti does here, and Sumi Jo is more ideally cast as Oscar under von Karajan than Kathleen Battle is here under Solti. Still, it really comes down to a matter of taste and neither recording will disappoint.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy this at any price, its wonderful, 11 Sep 2009
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This review is from: Verdi: Un Ballo in Maschera (Audio CD)
Kathleen Battle's Oscar is incredible, perfect in every way. Pavarotti's Ricardo is equally good- possibly his best fit in any role since the Duke in Rigoletto. Margaret Price is perhaps not quite up there with them but she is on top form here. Solti brings out the best in them all.
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