> GIGLI The HMV recordings 1938-40 [CF]: Classical Reviews- May2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Beniamino GIGLI (1890-1957)
The complete HMV recordings (1938-1940)
Ständchen - Schubert
Desiderio - Bixio
Dir nur gehört mein Herz (Desidiero) Bixio
Wiegenlied - Brahms
Amarilli - Caccini
Dalla sua pace (Don Giovanni) - Mozart
Notte d’amore - de Crescenzo
Aprile - Tosti
Ah sì! Di un anno (La Traviata) - Verdi
Oh mia Violetta (La Traviata) - Verdi
Il mio tesoro (Don Giovanni) - Mozart
La spagnola - di Chiara
La paloma - Yradier
O del mio amato ben - Donaudy
Maria - de Curtis
Lolita - Buzzi-Peccia
Io conosco un giardino (Maristella) – Pietri
Se m’ami ancor (Il Trovatore) - Verdi
Amor ti vieta (Fedora) - Giordano
Mamma - Bixio
Se vuoi goder la vita - Bixio
Che avvien? (Manon Lescaut) - Puccini
Di quella pira (Il Trovatore) - Verdi
Maria Caniglia (soprano) (9-10)
Cloe Elmo (mezzo-soprano) (18)
Giuseppe Noto (Baritone) (22)
Orchestras conducted by:
Dino Oliveri (1-4, 15-16, 20-21)
Lawrance Collingwood (5-12)
Luigi Ricci (13-14)
Umberto Berrettoni (17-19, 22-23)
ROMOPHONE 82023-2 [77’ 26"]


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This CD contains all of the sides Gigli recorded in his so-called third period, from September 1938 to the end of 1940, with the exception of the complete recordings of the Verdi Requiem, Madama Butterfly and Cavalleria rusticana, which were also made during this period. The sides, with fine transfers and audio restoration by Mark Obert-Thorn, have been presented in the order in which they were recorded, except for two Traviata duets, which appear in the order in which they occur in the opera. The singing is marvellous, though often a matter of taste. Unashamed scooping and excessive portamento by the orchestral strings can wear you down somewhat, so it’s a matter of accepting the style of the day.

The operatic arias, not many of them, are the best, though Caniglia takes a while to focus her contribution, though again it’s a question of accepting the scoops in Mozart, whereas he gets away with them more satisfactorily in either Verdi or Puccini. The Italian airs are beautifully done with the unique artistry this tenor possessed to carry them off without being excessively sentimental - indeed they are very seductive. His German is embarrassingly bad when it comes to Brahms and Schubert, though even here one can bypass such weakness and get to the heart of his sensitivity to relish their poignancy. A fiery ‘Di quella pira’ concludes a thoroughly satisfying disc, which his admirers will justifiably relish.

Christopher Fifield


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