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Discussion Starter · #221 · (Edited)
It was the other aria, Timor Di Me, I was referring to, not D'amor sull'ali Rosee. She's not too bad in this compared to Timor. It's on you tube too.

The Introuvables one I would like is the Mozart one but it is hard to find at an affordable price.
Timor di me is the recitative to D'amor sul'ali rosee? Did you mean Tacea la notte? I can't find a Destinn recording of that.

PS I've ordered the Verdi box from Amazon US. Quite expensive but I had some unused gift vouchers.
 

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Timor di me is the recitative to D'amor sul'ali rosee? Did you mean Tacea la notte? I can't find a Destinn recording of that.

PS I've ordered the Verdi box from Amazon US. Quite expensive but I had some unused gift vouchers.
It was indeed the recitative. In the box it is shown as two separate tracks. I'm not well versed in Verdi hence my confusion. She goes to town on the recitative though!:)
 
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Discussion Starter · #223 · (Edited)


Well I took the plunge and got this eight disc set. There's a lot to get through, but so far I've listened to the first four discs and I have discovered some new names.

The greats, like Ponselle, Caruso and Pinza still shine through, but almost every one of these singers has something to offer, not least the clean focus of their voices as compared to many of today's singers.

A big surprise for me was hearing Schwarzkopf and Panerai sing the Act II duet for Violetta and Germont from La Traviata. Famously Schwarzkopf dropped the role of Violetta after seeing Callas, saying she saw no point in continuing to sing a role another contemporary artist performed to perfection. However this duet suggests that Schwarzkopf was an appreciable Violetta, urgently dramatic and emotionally engaged, with no trace of artifice or mannerism. Definitely worth hearing.
 

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Well I took the plunge and got this eight disc set. There's a lot to get through, but so far I've listened to the first four discs and I have discovered some new names.

The greats, like Ponselle, Caruso and Pinza still shine through, but almost every one of these singers has something to offer, not least the clean focus of their voices as compared to many of today's singers.

A big surprise for me was hearing Schwarzkopf and Panerai sing the Act II duet for Violetta and Germont from La Traviata. Famously Schwarzkopf dropped the role of Violetta after seeing Callas, saying she saw no point in continuing to sing a role another contemporary artist performed to perfection. However this duet suggests that Schwarzkopf was an appreciable Violetta, urgently dramatic and emotionally engaged, with no trace of artifice or mannerism. Definitely worth hearig.
Thanks for the tip regarding Schwarzkopf. Had she been available, I'd perhaps prefer her to Stella as substitute for Callas in the 1955 set: Schwarzkopf, di Stefano, Gobbi and Serafin...

Come to think of it, Schwarzkopf worked with all three separately: di Stefano on the Verdi Requiem and would go on to work with Gobbi in Falstaff and Serafin on the Turandot recording.
 

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Discussion Starter · #225 ·
Thanks for the tip regarding Schwarzkopf. Had she been available, I'd perhaps prefer her to Stella as substitute for Callas in the 1955 set: Schwarzkopf, di Stefano, Gobbi and Serafin...

Come to think of it, Schwarzkopf worked with all three separately: di Stefano on the Verdi Requiem and would go on to work with Gobbi in Falstaff and Serafin on the Turandot recording.
I think if Legge had chosen his wife for what Callas saw as her Traviata, it would have caused an even greater rift between them. It is well known that she was furious that Legge went ahead and recorded the opera without here and she was so furious with Serafin for agreeing to conduct it that she fell out with him for quite some time (he is notably absent from her recording schedules in 1956, though they are back in the studio together in 1957). In retrospect of course, Legge should have waited a couple of years to record the La Scala Traviata, by which time she would have been free from the clause in her Cetra contract which forbade her from recording it for five years after the Cetra recording. Some of her greatest performances of Violetta date from 1958 - Lisbon and London. An opportunity missed. The Stella recording never sold and a Callas recording with Di Stefano and Gobbi under Serafin might easily have been the classic that their Tosca and Rigoletto recordings became.
 

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I think if Legge had chosen his wife for what Callas saw as her Traviata, it would have caused an even greater rift between them. It is well known that she was furious that Legge went ahead and recorded the opera without here and she was so furious with Serafin for agreeing to conduct it that she fell out with him for quite some time (he is notably absent from her recording schedules in 1956, though they are back in the studio together in 1957). In retrospect of course, Legge should have waited a couple of years to record the La Scala Traviata, by which time she would have been free from the clause in her Cetra contract which forbade her from recording it for five years after the Cetra recording. Some of her greatest performances of Violetta date from 1958 - Lisbon and London. An opportunity missed. The Stella recording never sold and a Callas recording with Di Stefano and Gobbi under Serafin might easily have been the classic that their Tosca and Rigoletto recordings became.
That's true - it might have caused even more animosity.

In terms of Callas at EMI, I'd have thought that recording her Cetra operas in 1959 - Traviata and Gioconda - would have made more sense instead of re-recording Lucia. Having said that, Serafin was presumably in London to prepare Sutherland for Lucia.

I wondered when I read about the clause if they could not have recorded the opera at some opportune moment - during '56/'57/'58 onwards if we want it in stereo - but only issue it after Cetra's deadline.
 

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View attachment 158351

I cannot count how many times I've listened to this recital. One of Leontyne's first albums and one of my favorite recital discs ever!
This was when she was a lyric soprano, before she got into the heavy Verdi roles and the bad habits. It sure was a gorgeous voice and in this recital, very well used. Love this record.
 

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Discussion Starter · #230 · (Edited)


Returning to this fascinating set with Disc 4, which is made up of excerpts from Nabucco (Nazzareno de Angelis, Ines de Frate and Carlo Galeffi) and La Fora del Destino (Gina Cigna, Celestina Bonisegna, Dusolina Giannini, Ivar Andresen and Meta Seinemeyer, Pinza and Ponselle, Francesco Merli, Caruso and Antonio Scotti, Heinrich Schlusnus, Gino Bechi and Lauri-Volpi, Salomea Kruszelnicka, Milanov and finishing up with the final trio featuring Pinza, Ponselle and Martinelli).

Not all are faultless (De Angelis and Cigna both display a tendency to aspirate) and not all are equally imaginative, but what magnificent voices. You really don't hear Verdi sung like this anymore.
 

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Discussion Starter · #231 ·


Otherwise known as The Elisabeth Schwarzkopf Christmas Album and if you're going to do a Christmas Album, then this is certainly a classy affair, with the Philharmonia Orchestra and Ambrosian Singers conducted by Sir Charles Mackerras. The arrangements are by Sir Charles too, all except Stille Nacht, which uses the arrangement from the first ever performance, with Schwarzkopf duetting with herself to an accompaniment of guitar and French horn.

Pure delight.
 

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Discussion Starter · #233 ·


TRACKLIST - EDEN

Charles Ives 1874-1954
The Unanswered Question

Rachel Portman b.1960
The First Morning of the World*

Gustav Mahler 1860-1911
Rückert-Lieder
"Ich atmet' einen linden Duft!"

Biagio Marini 1594-1663
Scherzi e canzone Op.5
"Con le stelle in ciel che mai"

Josef Mysliveček 1737-1781
Oratorio Adamo ed Eva (Part II)
Aria: "Toglierò le sponde al mare" (Angelo di giustizia)

Aaron Copland 1900-1990
8 Poems of Emily Dickinson for voice and chamber orchestra
Nature, the gentlest mother

Giovanni Valentini c.1582-1649
Sonata enharmonica

Francesco Cavalli 1602-1676
Opera La Calisto (Act I, Scene 14)
Aria: "Piante ombrose" (Calisto)

Christoph Willibald Gluck 1714-1787
Opera Orfeo ed Euridice Wq. 30
Danza degli spettri e delle furie. Allegro non troppo

Christoph Willibald Gluck 1714-1787
Scena ed aria Misera, dove son! From Ezio Wq. 15 (Fulvia)
Scena: "Misera, dove son!… "
Aria: "Ah! non son io che parlo…"

George Frideric Handel 1685-1759
Dramatic oratorio Theodora HWV 68 (Part I)
Aria: "As with Rosy steps the morn" (Irene)

Gustav Mahler
Rückert-Lieder
"Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen"

Richard Wagner 1813-1883
5 Gedichte für eine Frauenstimme WWV 91 (Wesendonck Lieder)
"Schmerzen"

George Frideric Handel
Opera Serse HWV 40 (Act I, Scene 1)
Recitativo: "Frondi tenere e belle"
Aria: "Ombra mai fù" (Serse)

*World-premiere recording

Joyce DiDonato's new album could probably best be described as a concept album and, despite one or two less than smooth transitions, is best listened to in one sitting and in the order she has set out.

At present DiDonato is in the middle of a twelve city tour, taking in both Europe and the USA and I am very much looking forward to seeing her perform at the Barbican in April. Looking at the photographs from some of the concerts she has already done, DiDonato is using to redefine the the recital format. Apparently every audience member is to receive a seed to plant as they're asked: 'In this time of upheaval, which seed will you plant today?'

"With each passing day," writes DiDonato, "I trust more and more in the perfect balance, astonishing mystery and guiding force of the natural world around us, how much Mother Nature has to teach us. EDEN is an invitation to return to our roots and to explore whether or not we are connecting as profoundly as we can to the pure essence of our being, to create a new EDEN from within and plant seeds of hope for the future."

As on the album, she is accompanied by her regular collaborators Il Pomo d'Oro under Maxim Emelyanchev.

The programme ranges wide, from the 17th to the 21st century and at least one change, when we go from the 21st century to the 17th strikes me as a little jarring, but for the most part the choices are sensible and the journey well thought out.

The album starts with an absolutely haunting performance of Ives' The Unanswered Question, in which DiDonato wordlessly sings the trumpet part. This segues into a commission from the Academy Award winning composer Rachel Portman, entitled The First Morning of the World, to a text by American writer Gene Scheer. This is a wonderfully evocative piece, full of sweeping lyricsm and gorgeous harmonies. Portman surely could not have hoped for a more beautiful performance. This is followed by a lovely performance of Mahler's Ich atmet einen Linden Duft, though we miss the richness of Mahler's original orchestra in this chamber re-orchestration.

The first slightly incongruous transition happens here with Biagio Marini's Con le stelle in ciel che mai, though there is nothing wrong with its execution and, once I'd got used to being plunged into an entirely different sound world I enjoyed it and the Mysliveček aria from his orotorio, Adamo ed Eva, which follows.

This first part of the recital finishes with a masterful performance of Nature, the Gentlest Mother from Aaron Copland's 8 Poems of Emily Dickinson, beautifully played by Il Pomo d'Oro and in which DiDonato sings with excellent diction without compromising her legato line.

It is followed by one of two purely orchestral tracks, the Sonata enharmonica by Giuseppe Valentini. The other is Gluck's Dance of the Spirits and Furies from Orfeo ed Euridice.

DoDonato is known to us as a great Handel singer and one of the highlights of the album is Irene's As with rosy steps the morn from Theodora, which is deeply felt, even if ultimately for me it doesn't quite erase memories of Lorraine Hunt Lieberson in the same music. Handel is also reserved for the final piece, which comes after Mahler and Wagner, leaving us to bask in the peace and calm of his Ombra mai fu.

DiDonato is in fine voice throughout, her fast flicker vibrato, which can sometimes be intrusive, hardly in evidence at all. I must say that I rather like this "concept" and I have no hesitation recommending this album, and I would urge you to listen to it in one sitting. If I have sometimes had reservations about DiDonato's ability to convey personality and individuality in the studio, I have no such reservations here and would recommend this album unreservedly.
 
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Discussion Starter · #234 · (Edited)


Disc 5 of this entralling set has excerpts from Don Carlo and I Vespri Siciliani.

One or two misses, amongst which I'd include Margarete Arndt-Ober's Veil Song (considering her lack of a tril and flexibility, you wonder why she recorded it) and Clara Butt's matronly O don fatale. Frida Leider also sings O don fatale and she is much more interesting, without really convincing me that she is an Eboli.

Rosa Raisa, the first Turandot, sings Elena's Merce, dliette amiche with wonderful lightness, an excellent trill and superb flexibility (though she alters the line when it dips down below the stave), which makes me wonder if the Nilsson-type voice is really what Puccini had in mind for Turandot. Ester Mazzoleni also alters the end of Arrigo, ah parli a un core to avoid the chromatic scale that takes her down to a low F#, but otherwise phrases beautifully. I rather liked her fast flicker vibrato.

There are some excellent performances from the men, including Plançon singing part of Philip's Act III scena in French, Riccardo Stracciarin in Montfort's In braccia alle dovizie, Christoff and Gobbi in the Act II duet from Don Carlo, Gobbi in 1942, reminding us that he could sing with great beauty of tone in Posa's Per me giunto and Io morro and , possibly most impressive of all, Christoff in a 1950 performance of the whole of Philip's Act III scena, immeasurably helped by Karajan and the Philharmonia. The mournful orchestral introduction superbly sets the scene for Christoff's heartbreaking rendition and Karajan supports him every step of the way.
 

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Disc 5 of this entralling set has excerpts from Don Carlo and I Vespri Siciliani.

One or two misses, amongst which I'd include Margarete Arndt-Ober's Veil Song (considering her lack of a tril and flexibility, you wonder why she recorded it) and Clara Butt's matronly O don fatale. Frida Leider also sings O don fatale and she is much more interesting, without really convincing me that she is an Eboli.

Rosa Raisa, the first Turandot, sings Elena's Merce, dliette amiche with wonderful lightness, an excellent trill and superb flexibility (though she alters the line when it dips down below the stave), which makes me wonder if the Nilsson-type voice is really what Puccini had in mind for Turandot. Ester Mazzoleni also alters the end of Arrigo, ah parli a un core to avoid the chromatic scale that takes her down to a low F#, but otherwise phrases beautifully. I rather liked her fast flicker vibrato.

There are some excellent performances from the men, including Plançon singing part of Philip's Act III scena in French, Riccardo Stracciarin in Montfort's In braccia alle dovizie, Christoff and Gobbi in the Act II duet from Don Carlo, Gobbi in 1942, reminding us that he could sing with great beauty of tone in Posa's Per me giunto and Io morro and , possibly most impressive of all, Christoff in a 1950 performance of the whole of Philip's Act III scena, immeasurably helped by Karajan and the Philharmonia. The mournful orchestral introduction superbly sets the scene for Christoff's heartbreaking rendition and Karajan supports him every step of the way.
I'm listening to disc 4 of this set. Very good.
 
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Discussion Starter · #237 · (Edited)


This box set brings together the five LPs of Rachmaninov songs Söderström and Ashkenazy recorded between 1975 and 1980. Wonderful though it is to have them altogether, I do have one gripe. No doubt the programme for each individual LP was carefully thought out, though, as most of the well known songs appeared on the first one, I rather doubt a complete set was considered at that time. With the five LPs now spread over three CDs, it seems to me it would have made more sense to rearrange the songs into chronological order and into their various opus numbers. The booklet does in fact so this in a separate listing after the track listing and it also discusses the songs in that order too. At least this issue does give us all the texts and translations, which is something you can't take for granted anymore.

It seems unlikely anyway that anyone would listen to them in one sitting, but this is more or less what I did, taking in the first disc yesterday and the others today. Performances are uniformly excellent and Söderström is sensitive to every mood, though most of the songs are quite melancholy. Ashkenazy is a superb accompanist in the often virtuosic piano writing and one feels that the two artists are involved in a true collaboration. Perhaps because the first disc includes most of the plums, I found it the most enjoyable but there are treasures on the others as well. John Shirley-Quirk makes an appearance for the duet Two partings and Ashkenazy is given two solos in the piano only arrangements of Daisies and Lilacs.

Söderström is perhaps not so well remembered now as she should be. She had a lovely lyrical soprano, perhaps not so individual or recognisable as some, but an intelligent and musical singer who excels in these songs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #238 ·


This set was originally issued on three LPs back in 1984, and later condensed into two very well filled CDs and is still available as a download. As such, it is an excellent way of collecting all Ravel’s song settings, the singers all being well chosen for the songs they are allocated. It also has Michel Plasson in charge of the orchestral and chamber accompanied songs and that master accompanist, Dalton Baldwin, at the piano.

We start with Teresa Berganza singing Shéhérazade, orchestrally fine and well sung, but Berganza is just a little anonymous and the performance doesn’t stay in the memory as do those by, say, Crespin, Hendricks or Baker, all of whom are more vivid storytellers. The orchestral contribution by Plasson and his Toulouse orchestra is splendid. This is followed by the Vocalise en forme de Habanera and Chanson espagnole, ideal performances in which Berganza finds the erotic sensuality that had eluded her in Shéhérazade.

Next up is Gabriel Bacquier, who is entrusted with Histoires naturelles, Sur l’herbe and Chanson française. These are superb performances, Bacquier finding just the right sense of ironic derachment for the Renard settings, his enunciation of the text so clear you can all but taste the words.

Mady Mesplé’s clear, bright, very French soprano with its characteristic flutter vibrato is not to everyone’s taste, but I like her, and she is absolutey charming in the Greek songs, including the less regularly performed Tripatos. She also gives us lovely performances of three rarities, Ballade de la reine morte d’aimer, Manteau de fleurs and Rêves. José Van Dam gets the Hebrew settings, Don Quichotte à Dulcinée and five more songs, of which Les grands vents venus d’outre-mer is especially notable. To all he contributes the sterling virtues of his beautiful, firm bass-baritone, coupled to sensitive treatment of the text.

Felicity Lott, charming in the Noël des jouets and Chanson écossaise, also has the Mallarmé poems, in which she is suitably languid, if a little diffident. She is also good in the two Clément Marot settings, but Maggie Teyte gets more out of the words on her recording. Jessye Norman brings the collection to a close with the Chansons madécasses, as well as Chanson du rouet and Si morne. As usual, Norman is never less than involved, but as so often I find she sings with an all-purpose generosity, and I’d have welcomed a little more of Janet Baker specificity. Still this is nitpicking, and hers are still among the best versions of these wonderful songs. Throughout the piano accompanied songs Dalton Baldwin provides superbly idiomatic playing, with the Ensemble de Chambre de l’orchestre de Paris providing the accompaniment for the Mallarmé settings and Michel Debost on flute and Renaud Fontanarosa on cello in the Madegascan songs.

Altogether, this is a wonderfully rewarding set and, if individual performances have been bettered elsewhere, all are more than adequate and many a great deal more than that, though, on this occasion, it is the gentlemen who take the palm. Warmly recommended.
 

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This set was originally issued on three LPs back in 1984, and later condensed into two very well filled CDs and is still available as a download. As such, it is an excellent way of collecting all Ravel’s song settings, the singers all being well chosen for the songs they are allocated. It also has Michel Plasson in charge of the orchestral and chamber accompanied songs and that master accompanist, Dalton Baldwin, at the piano.

We start with Teresa Berganza singing Shéhérazade, orchestrally fine and well sung, but Berganza is just a little anonymous and the performance doesn’t stay in the memory as do those by, say, Crespin, Hendricks or Baker, all of whom are more vivid storytellers. The orchestral contribution by Plasson and his Toulouse orchestra is splendid. This is followed by the Vocalise en forme de Habanera and Chanson espagnole, ideal performances in which Berganza finds the erotic sensuality that had eluded her in Shéhérazade.

Next up is Gabriel Bacquier, who is entrusted with Histoires naturelles, Sur l’herbe and Chanson française. These are superb performances, Bacquier finding just the right sense of ironic derachment for the Renard settings, his enunciation of the text so clear you can all but taste the words.

Mady Mesplé’s clear, bright, very French soprano with its characteristic flutter vibrato is not to everyone’s taste, but I like her, and she is absolutey charming in the Greek songs, including the less regularly performed Tripatos. She also gives us lovely performances of three rarities, Ballade de la reine morte d’aimer, Manteau de fleurs and Rêves. José Van Dam gets the Hebrew settings, Don Quichotte à Dulcinée and five more songs, of which Les grands vents venus d’outre-mer is especially notable. To all he contributes the sterling virtues of his beautiful, firm bass-baritone, coupled to sensitive treatment of the text.

Felicity Lott, charming in the Noël des jouets and Chanson écossaise, also has the Mallarmé poems, in which she is suitably languid, if a little diffident. She is also good in the two Clément Marot settings, but Maggie Teyte gets more out of the words on her recording. Jessye Norman brings the collection to a close with the Chansons madécasses, as well as Chanson du rouet and Si morne. As usual, Norman is never less than involved, but as so often I find she sings with an all-purpose generosity, and I’d have welcomed a little more of Janet Baker specificity. Still this is nitpicking, and hers are still among the best versions of these wonderful songs. Throughout the piano accompanied songs Dalton Baldwin provides superbly idiomatic playing, with the Ensemble de Chambre de l’orchestre de Paris providing the accompaniment for the Mallarmé settings and Michel Debost on flute and Renaud Fontanarosa on cello in the Madegascan songs.

Altogether, this is a wonderfully rewarding set and, if individual performances have been bettered elsewhere, all are more than adequate and many a great deal more than that, though, on this occasion, it is the gentlemen who take the palm. Warmly recommended.
Can you point me to a link for the download please Tsaras?
 
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