Author Topic: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD  (Read 81812 times)

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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #320 on: March 24, 2019, 10:24:37 AM »




Good to be reminded of Baltsa's pre-eminence as a lyric/dramatic mezzo at the beginning of the 1980s, when this recital was recorded.

The recital shows off to advantage her keen dramatic instinct, a tangily individual timbre, and a voice that was, at this time at least, absolutely seamless from top to bottom. Though she had already recorded Eboli and Amneris for Karajan, this recital concentrates for the most part on her work in the field of bel canto.

Baltsa was an exciting stage performer, as I can attest, having seen her live on many occasions and a great deal of that excitement comes through on disc, the climaxes of the arias from La Favorita and Il Giuamento being pafticularly thrilling. She has a strong vocal personality, which comes across stunningly on disc, and she realises the different demands of classical, Romantic and verismo music. If there is a limitation, it is that she rarely colours or weights the voice to suit the character she is playing, something more noticeable in a recital disc than it would be in a complete performance.

Stand out tracks for me were the aria from La Donna del Lago, where she gently caresses the opening cavatina, and the aforementioned arias from Il Giuramento and La Favorita. Indeed, on this showing it is a great pity that nobody thought to make a complete recording of the Donizetti opera with her, though preferably in the original French rather than Italian as it is here.

To sum up, this is a great memento of an important singer recorded when the voice was at its peak. I seem to remember that it was issued in the UK originally on EMI, but the recording was made by Orfeo, and it is that issue I have.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #321 on: March 25, 2019, 03:12:32 AM »


Tchaikovsky; Eugene Onegin - Tatiana's Letter Scene
Verdi: Aida - Ritorna vincitor
Puccini: Tosca Vissi d'arte
Puccini: La Boheme - Quando m'en vo
Weber: Der Freschütz - Wie nahthe mir der Schlummer - Leise, leise
Strauss: Salome - Closing Scene

Ljuba Welitsch shot through the operatic firmament like a comet in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Unfortunately she developed nodules on her chords by 1953 and her international career was over almost before it started. In that brief time her Salome at least became the stuff of legend, and to this day is considered one of the greatest of all times, though a prodjected complete recording with Reiner conducting never materialised. There are two live perforances from the Met, from 1949 and 1952. The latter has the best all round cast, but she is in fresher voice in the former.

These recordings all date from the 1940s when her voice was at its silvery best, and the final scene from Salome, conducted by Lovro von Matacic dates from 1944, when Strauss himself chose her to sing the role at the Vienna Opera in a production, which was to celebrate his eightieth birthday. They worked on the piece for six weeks, with Strauss himself attending the rehearsals, so, from that point of view at least, we should consider her performance here as authentic. Indeed this must be exactly the voice Strauss had had in mind. It remains silvery, youthful and light, and yet cuts through the heavy orchestral textures with no apparent effort. Not only that, but her word painting and identification with the role is so vivid that at the end of the scene one literally feels Herod's distaste when he commands his soldiers to kill her. This scene alone is indispensable, whether one has one of the complete live recordings or not.

The other arias were all recorded between 1947 and 1949, when the voice was still in fine shape, but they do expose some of her weaknesses. The best of them is Tatiana's Letter Scene from Eugene Onegin, here sung in German, which teems with girlish impulsiveness and teen-angst longing. There is no sense of strain and the high notes ring out gloriously. Please also take note of the wonderful horn playing of Dennis Brain.  This scene ranks as highly as the Strauss in the Welitsch discography.

Musetta's Waltz makes its effect well, with loads of personality, but she misses the anguish and contrasts in Aida's Ritorna vincitor, and her Vissi d'arte is rather penny plain. Neither scene really registers anything at all and she has a tendency to rush the beat, which can be quite annoying. The Weber is better, but she still lacks the poise and control evinced by such singers as Elisabeth Grümmer and Elisabeth Schwarzkopf.

When the voice started to let her down, she did not retire, but moved to character roles, most famously singing the Duenna in Karajan's first recording of Der Rosenkavalier. As late as 1972, she played the role of the Duchess of Crakentorp in a Fille du Régiment at the Met.

Not a recital in the true sense of the word, as all these performances were recorded for 78s, this compilaton is essential none the less for the Strauss and Tchaikovsky at least.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #322 on: Today at 02:21:49 AM »


Like many of Cecilia Bartoli's releases, this one has a catchy title and cover, but is really just a convenient way of grouping together some arias from orotorios written during a short period when stage performances were banned by the Papacy.

This is the only Bartoli recital I own, a gift from a friend, who loves her unreservedly, and no doubt intended to win me over to the cause. Unfortunately his well-meaning intentions didn't work. I've never been a big fan of Ms Bartoli's hectoring, over-vibrant manner, especially in fast music, and this recital disc doesn't do much to help me overcome my prejudice. I dig it out from time to time, in the hope that my reactions might be different and that I will be able to enjoy what so many others obviously do, but to no avail. In some of the slower arias, Handel's Lascia la spina, for instance (his first thoughts on the famous aria that eventually found its way into his Rinaldo as Lascia ch'io pianga) I begin to capitulate to the way she gently caresses the line and the genuine pathos of the performance, but I simply cannot get on with the rat-a-tat firing off in the faster music, which sounds just un-musical to me.

Even in some of the slower arias, Caldara's Si piangete pupille dolente, for instance, she presses on individual notes, losing sight of the long legato line, the tone too breathless and vibrating. This must be a conscious decision on her part, because she is quite capable of maintaining the line when she wants to.

For those who respond to her style more sympathetically than I do, I should say that the programme is an interesting one and Mark Minkowski's accompaniments with Les Musiciens du Louvre are excellent.

I often complain these days about faceless singers with no personality, and Bartoli is certainly not that, easily recognisable from just a few short measures. I just wish that her individual style and personlality were more to my taste.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas