on 12 September 2007
The last reviewer describes this set as "good value for money". It is far more than that. It is an astonishingly accomplished achievement all round. The sound is stunningly immediate and the direction by Bonynge a model of elegant and rhythmic elan. The singing is incomparable: Pavarotti has done nothing better on disc (and that is saying much), while Sutherland puts all competitors in the shade with a performance of ravishing tonal beauty and, of course, technical mastery. There are no voices like this today. Buy this set and be amazed. This is truly great singing.
on 24 August 2004
Pavarotti and Sutherland are breathtaking in this set.
Pavarotti is in his utter prime and can muster up staggeringly good singing. Sutherland is magical, as in her second Lucia di Lammermoor she has a radiant tone perfect for Donizetti, and her diction sounds improved over her earlier recordings. The rest of the cast are strong with lots of character. Bonynge gives able direction and the sound is pristine stereo.
Although the price is high for a 1970's recording the talent of the singers is of such a level to make this good value for money.
on 12 March 2011
this is so beautiful. it's all beautifully sung but pavarotti's voice is beyond comparison; full of expression, emotion, clarity. it's breathtaking, heart-rending, overwhelming perfection.
on 24 July 2013
I'm a fan of another less-than-perfect "Puritani" -- the Beverly Sills recording, also from 1973, as this one is. Sills's voice is less full than Sutherland's, but Sills sings the words, and Sutherland's diction is mushy. For her, the words seem to exist for the sake of the notes, while for Sills (as for Callas, on another estimable recording) there's a better balance between the words and the music. The test here is the "mad scene," starting with "O rendetemi la speme." In that section where Elvira is singing to Riccardo about whether he has been in love (because she sees him weeping), it's Sills who gets to the heart of this. But there are real strengths to this recording. On the Sills recording, Plishka and, even more, Quilico, sing well -- but to hear the unforced beauty of Cappuccilli's singing (as Riccardo) and the force, weight, warmth, and focus of Ghiaurov (as Giorgio) is to be in the presence of superior voices who can also sing well. And then there's Pavarotti -- the thrill of his singing here, relatively early in his international career, is real. He has gorgeous music to sing, and he's up for it. It's a treat to listen to, and he sings off the words beautifully too. I have nothing but admiration for Gedda's performance, but this is a younger, warmer, voice, and it's a bit more at ease, relatively speaking.
However, I have some reservations about the sound. When the singing is solo, and when the orchestra is not accompanying singing, the sound is centered and present and warm. The sound in the Sills recording is slightly recessed, with plenty of air around it. It sounds less dark, more "open." But when we get to ensembles, the Sills recording is much better balanced. In the Sutherland recording, in the Act 1 exchanges with Riccardo, the singer singing Bruno is off in different aural space. And in "A te, o cara," Pavarotti solo is fine, but when the others enter, the sound gets a bit muddy and congested -- the Sills recording's engineers do a better job here, and later in the concerted portions of the mad scene in Act 2. To sum up, I wouldn't be without this (though I wonder if remastering might be in order), and Sutherland's singing, just as sound, is impressive, despite my reservations about the histrionic dimensions of her performance. Bonynge's pacing seems fine too. A good year for Bellini, 1973.