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Otello (Salzburg 1971)
Otello (Salzburg 1971)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Vickers live, 1 Feb. 2017
This review is from: Otello (Salzburg 1971) (Audio CD)
A fascinating document of an Otello performance by Jon Vickers at his prime. Here is evidence that Vickers put theatre before vocal purity, and why not? Yes he scraps and shouts a few notes but here is an actor who also happens to be an opera singer. You can feel the drama, particularly in the Act 3 duet with Desdemona. Glossop is an OTT Jago and his nasal snarl is particularly unattractive, but all-in-all it's a committed performance. Freni is a dream and I have to say a musically faultless performance. The silvery-voiced Ryland Davis as Cassio is first class. The sound is reasonably good and Karajan is predictably dynamic in the pit.

Yes, the cut to act 3 is awful, and HVK had the audacity to keep the cut in his studio recording three years later with the same three principals.This aside it's a worthwhile listen of Verdi's masterpiece.


Puccini: Turandot
Puccini: Turandot
Price: £11.82

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Reference document, 7 Oct. 2016
This review is from: Puccini: Turandot (Audio CD)
An interesting recording of Turandot. Recorded in 1937. The highlight for me is the Ping, Pang, Pong of Poli, Del Signore and Zagonara. They are the best trio I've heard, and I believe I've heard all the studio recordings. Beautiful voices and interpretation. It's a shame that their trio, like many recordings, is cut. Merli was a superb tenor with real steel to his voice. His "Nessun Dorma" is sung as written so don't expect the held B natural in "vinCEro". Cigna as Turandot did not have an attractive voice. She has the power but her top notes have a slight sourness to them that makes for uncomfortable listening. Olivero is disappointingly shrill as Liu. All in all it just scrapes 4 stars. It's an interesting document but for anyone looking for a first recording I would recommend in order of preference. Nilsson/Corelli (EMI), Nilsson/Bjorling (RCA), Borkh/Del Monaco or Sutherland Pavarotti (DECCA).


Beethoven: Complete Symphonies
Beethoven: Complete Symphonies

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Beethoven Bargain, 5 Oct. 2016
At the time of writing this you could get this set for less than a fiver. All the symphonies played with sensitivity by the Staatskapelle Dresden under Blomstedt. It's a no brainer. Bags of sensitivity and nuance throughout. The final moment of the third was a stand out for me - fluid, unpredictable and brilliant. The opening movement of the fourth is gloriously thunderous. The eight and ninth were all-round highlights. The sound was well balanced and clean. With so much competition this set slips under the radar and, as there is no perfect complete set, this one is never less than good or great.


Puccini: Manon Lescaut
Puccini: Manon Lescaut
Price: £13.53

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great but not as great as Bjorling & Albanese, 27 Sept. 2016
This review is from: Puccini: Manon Lescaut (Audio CD)
An intense recording with excellent singing throughout. Freni still has an attractive warmth to her voice in the early 80s. Her's was a voice that kept its shape for three decades. Domingo's timbre had changed for the (even) better in the early 80s. There's a steel-like power to his mid to upper range, which makes him sound more powerful and exciting. His 'Guardate... Pazzo son' is wonderfull - a show stopper. Bruson is excellent as Lescaut - he doesn't throw away this nominal baritone role, but rather gives it thought and detail. The supporting cast are all good and Sinopoli once more revels in the textures of Puccini's orchestration. It's a pity he was not given an opportunity to record Turandot in the studio. I have to end by saying it does not fill the top spot for this opera (in my opinion) - that still goes to Bjorling and the incredible actress that was Licia Albanese in their recording on RCA.


Puccini: Manon Lescaut
Puccini: Manon Lescaut

5.0 out of 5 stars Great but not as great as Bjorling & Albanese, 27 Sept. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Puccini: Manon Lescaut (Audio CD)
An intense recording with excellent singing throughout. Freni still has an attractive warmth to her voice in the early 80s. Her's was a voice that kept its shape for three decades. Domingo's timbre had changed for the (even) better in the early 80s. There's a steel-like power to his mid to upper range, which makes him sound more powerful and exciting. His 'Guardate... Pazzo son' is wonderfull - a show stopper. Bruson is excellent as Lescaut - he doesn't throw away this nominal baritone role, but rather gives it thought and detail. The supporting cast are all good and Sinopoli once more revels in the textures of Puccini's orchestration. It's a pity he was not given an opportunity to record Turandot in the studio. I have to end by saying it does not fill the top spot for this opera (in my opinion) - that still goes to Bjorling and the incredible actress that was Licia Albanese in their recording on RCA.


Le Villi (Maazel, Domingo, Scotto)
Le Villi (Maazel, Domingo, Scotto)

3.0 out of 5 stars Only for the Puccini geek, 21 Sept. 2016
An interesting document of Puccini's first operatic venture. There are moments when one can hear glimmers of Manon Lescaut and La Boheme in the score of Le Villi, but as a work it struggles. It struggles because the plot is weak - a pompous morale tale against unfaithfulness. One that Puccini himself was not going to heed in the years ahead.

As a recording it doesn't just fail on the work's musical merits: Scotto shouts her way through, and at times she positively shrieks. Domingo struggles with the high tessitura. It's interesting that he sung the taxing aria "Torna ai felici di" far better in one of his very early recital albums but here he's really pushing hard and his top notes become gradually thinner as he progresses through the aria and subsequent finale.

If you're curious to hear an early Puccini outing where his inimitable style has not fully formed then go ahead.


Puccini: Le Villi
Puccini: Le Villi
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £7.82

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Only for the Puccini geek., 19 Sept. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Puccini: Le Villi (Audio CD)
An interesting document of Puccini's first operatic venture. There are moments when one can hear glimmers of Manon Lescaut and La Boheme in the score of Le Villi, but as a work it struggles. It struggles because the plot is weak - a pompous morale tale against unfaithfulness. One that Puccini himself was not going to heed in the years ahead.

As a recording it doesn't just fail on the work's musical merits: Scotto shouts her way through, and at times she positively shrieks. Domingo struggles with the high tessitura. It's interesting that he sung the taxing aria "Torna ai felici di" far better in one of his very early recital albums but here he's really pushing hard and his top notes become gradually thinner as he progresses through the aria and subsequent finale.

If you're curious to hear an early Puccini outing where his inimitable style has not fully formed then go ahead.


Puccini: Tosca
Puccini: Tosca
Price: £16.69

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sinopoli loves Puccini, 16 Sept. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Puccini: Tosca (Audio CD)
A very impressive recording, mainly due to Sinopoli. True to form he lingers often but as in the act I duet between Tosca and Cavaradossi he varies the pace beautifully. There are wonderful moments when he punctuates the drama with the orchestra - just before "Vissi d'arte" when Scarpia begins his assault the orchestra punches into silence save the drum ("Odi. Ed il tamburro") which passes menacingly. The brass in act III are extraordinary.

Freni had a far more powerful voice than people give her credit and by this late time in her career it was big, though the top doesn't so much wobble as rock. Callas's had the same problem with her second Tosca and one forgives her, and Freni. The other thing about Freni that I think (perhaps) goes unnoticed is what a tremendous actress she was. Her hatred of Scarpia is palpable. Her "Giuro" in Act I is husky and vicious.

Domingo is in great form and it is to his credit that this recording is over twenty years after his first (I feel he's on a close mic and Freni certainly overpowers him in places). I still miss that smidgen of power on the top notes - "Vittoria!" in act II, and his last tortured scream is more a moan so it's surprising when the orchestra and Tosca accentuate that "I've had enough" moment "Nel pozzo... nel giardino".

Ramey rocks as Scarpia. He pushes his top so that you'd think he was always in the baritone repertoire. He's soave and gentle too, and of course Sinopoli revels in the allargando at the end of the Te Deum.

A great Tosca.


La Traviata
La Traviata
Offered by Smaller World Future
Price: £41.85

4.0 out of 5 stars A Showcase, 8 Sept. 2016
This review is from: La Traviata (Audio CD)
I had my doubts over this recording at first as the first act just seemed a Sutherland/Pavarotti showcase - both given free reign to show their stuff. You cannot deny the trumpet-like sheen of Pavarotti in his prime and in an ideal Verdi role. His 'O mio Rimorso' is tremedous - a thinly disguised Di Quella Pira. Suthland's diction is better than her first Traviata from the 60s - her voice held exceptionally well. Her acting too is an improvement. Manuguerra is the big hit here - he had a hefty, full-blooded voice but he vocally dances through his first delicate exchanges with Violetta in Act 2. He is the gentle persuader, but when needs be has the vocal force to convince. His 'Di Provenza' is one of the finest renditions I've heard. It's a great pity his Rigoletto was never recorded (his Nabucco is tremendous).

Bonynge was an excellent conductor and he brings out all the textures in the score with the National Phil. The clarinet during Violetta's letter writing stayed with me - dramatic and beautifully sustained. I had some minor gripes - Oliver's thin-voiced Gastone - but it's an excellent recording and worth a listen. Just shy of 5 stars.


Verdi: La Traviata
Verdi: La Traviata
Price: £12.67

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Showcase, 8 Sept. 2016
This review is from: Verdi: La Traviata (Audio CD)
I had my doubts over this recording at first as the first act just seemed a Sutherland/Pavarotti showcase - both given free reign to show their stuff. You cannot deny the trumpet-like sheen of Pavarotti in his prime and in an ideal Verdi role. His 'O mio Rimorso' is tremedous - a thinly disguised Di Quella Pira. I was never a huge Sutherland fan but her diction here is better than her first Traviata from the 60s - her voice held exceptionally well. Her acting too is greatly improved - the spoke lines before Violetta's death are heart-rending. Manuguerra is the big hit here - he had a hefty, full-blooded voice but he vocally dances through his first delicate exchanges with Violetta in Act 2. He is the gentle persuader, but when needs be has the vocal force to convince. His 'Di Provenza' is one of the finest renditions I've heard. It's a great pity his Rigoletto was never recorded (his Nabucco and Scarpia are tremendous).

Bonynge was an excellent conductor and he brings out all the textures in the score with the National Phil. There are no cuts to the score (as with Sutherland's first Traviata - the first to do so) The clarinet during Violetta's letter writing stayed with me - dramatic and beautifully sustained. I had some minor gripes - Oliver's thin-voiced Gastone - but it's an excellent recording and worth a listen. Just shy of 5 stars.


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