> Verdi - Domingo - The Tenor Arias [RM]: Classical Reviews- February 2002 MusicWeb(UK)






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Giuseppe VERDI (1813 1901)
Verdi - Domingo - The Tenor Arias

DISC 1
LA TRAVIATA Alfredo

Bayerisches Staatsorchester / Kleiber
AIDA Radamès

Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala / Abbado
DON CARLOS Don Carlos

Berliner Philharmoniker / Barenboim
Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala / Abbado
UN BALLO IN MASCHERA Gustavo III / Ricardo

Wiener Philharmoniker / Karajan
Orchester der Deutschen Oper Berlin / Santi
IL TROVATORE - Manrico

New Philharmonia Orchestra / Mehta
RIGOLETTO Il Duca di Mantova

Wiener Philharmoniker / Giulini
LA FORZA DEL DESTINO Don Alvaro

Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala / Muti
Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre / Gergiev

DISC 2
ERNANI Ernani

Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra / Giulini
Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre / Gergiev
I LOMBARDI ALLA PRIMA CROCIATA Oronte

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra / Gardelli
Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre / Gerviev
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra / Gardelli
JÉRUSALEM Gaston

Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre / Gergiev
LUISA MILLER Rudolfo

Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden / Maazel
GIOVANNA DARCO Carlo VII

London Symphony Orchestra / Levine
I VESPRI SICILIANI Arrigo/
LES VÈPRES SICILIENNES Henri

New Philharmonia Orchestra / Levine
Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre / Gergiev

DISC 3
OTELLO Otello

Orchestre de lOpera Bastille / Chung
Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden / Solti
MACBETH Macduff

Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala / Abbado
NABUCCO - Ismaele

Orchester der Deutsches Oper Berlin / Sinopoli
STIFFELIO Stiffelio

Orquesta Sinfónica de Madrid / Tamayo
AROLDO Aroldo

Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre / Gergiev
SIMON BOCCANEGRA Gabriele Adorno

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra / Downes.
LA BATTAGLIA DI LEGNANO Arrigo

Orchestra dellAccademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia / Chung
UN GIORNO DI REGNO Edoardo

Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre / Gergiev
ATTILA Foresto

National Philharmonic Orchestra / Kohn
Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre / Gergiev
 
DISC 4
I DUE FOSCARI Jacopo

Orchestra dellAccademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia / Chung
Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre / Gergiev
Orchestra dellAccademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia / Chung
I MASNADIERI Carlo Moor

Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre / Gergiev
IL CORSARO Corrado

Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre / Gergiev
FALSTAFF Fenton

Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre / Gergiev
OBERTO, CONTE DI SAN BONIFACIO Riccardo

Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre / Gergiev
Orchestra dellAccademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia / Chung
ALZIRA Zamoro

Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre / Gergiev
Philharmonia Orchestra / Kohn
MESSA DA REQUIEM Dies irae

London Symphony Orchestra / Bernstein
New Recordings (Chung): DDD: Rome, Auditorio di Via della Conciliazione, 4/1999; New York, Master Sound Astoria, 3/2001
New Recordings (Gergiev): DDD: Baden-Baden, Festspielhaus, 7/2000; Salzburg, Aula der Theologischen Fakultät der Universität, Salzburg, 8/2000; New York, Master Sound Astoria, 10/2000
ADD / DDD DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 471 335-2
CD1: 77.23 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 471 336-2
CD2: 76.56 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 471 337-2
CD3: 72.46 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 471 338-2
CD4: 76.20 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 471 339-2

 

If presentation is all then this boxed set is a winner. The box has an open side. It does not collapse when empty. Each of the four CDs is individually packed in its own firm folding sleeve, the CD being secured within an acrylic type holder.

The booklet entitled sung texts (no capitals) is divided into four parts. There is a list of Domingos Verdi débuts. That is followed by a schedule for each disc with opera, role, extract, timing, soloists (where appropriate), orchestra and conductor. Next to appear are some 160 pages of sung (mostly) Italian text with the three usual language translations down a double spread page. The concluding part is three pages of densely packed information relating to recording details.

Wow, you might say; but it does not end there. In addition there is a lavishly printed hard backed (yes hard backed) booklet containing an introduction by Domingo; an article by Harvey Sachs entitled domingo and verdi : a "team for the ages" followed by an article verdi and his tenors. Coloured paper: coloured (and early life Domingo black and white) photographs from different roles over the years abound.

This has class / style / charisma stamped on every detail; and not a note have we heard yet. What we have learned is that this Deutsche Grammophon Edition is a comprehensive overview of Verdi's writing for the tenor voice of recordings of Deutsche Grammophon and other companies supplemented by 100 minutes of music that [he] has recorded for the first time[and]quite a few "alternative arias" (Domingo). Sachs concludes Thus we are able to observe the astonishing development of one of the most influential composers of the 19th century.

Well, yes and no. Certainly there are tenor arias from all twenty-eight Verdi operas: but in no order that allowed me to observe the development unless I was prepared to jump disc or track. I may be doing Deutsche Grammophon and/or their engineers an injustice but it seems to me that CD content (but not order) was dictated by giving maximum playing time. Laudable indeed but not really development watching potential.

Having progressed thus far, it is not my intention to review the eighty-seven tracks. What seems to me to be more relevant is to provide an overview. After all, you are not going to be reading this with (or without) a view to purchase unless you have some knowledge of either Domingo or Verdi or both. If you are not familiar with either then do go and buy one of his many single CDs as a taster before embarking on this tour de force which will cost you £49.99 or less.

For that is what this is (for most of the time). Some of the greatest dramatic tenor arias sung by one of its greatest exponents. There are many examples: take Se quel guerrier from Aida with its superbly hit and held notes and some delightful colouring; or the long extract from one of my personal favourites Don Carlos/Don Carlo showing the range and depth of emotion and tone. Listen to the two tracks from his début Macduff in Macbeth where there are some stunningly clear lines with remarkable colouring. For delightfully soft notes with multi textures go to Dies irae. So far so good; or, more accurately, so far so brilliant.

However there are other Verdi arias from his less memorable operas which whilst workmanlike, do not possess the charisma of the greats; and it is the juxtaposition of those other works with the brilliance of the former which shows them to their disadvantage. It is mainly these secondary works that are the subject of the new recordings included here.

The point about juxtaposition is relevant to the Domingo performance. As a broad generalisation the recordings of the great Verdi arias are taken from earlier recordings whilst (with a notable exception) the lesser works form the subject of the recent recordings for this edition. The juxtaposition point recurs because we can compare directly the earlier recordings by the younger Domingo which are close to, if they do not actually achieve, perfection with the Domingo of today. We can hear where there is less comfort in the highest range; where there is not the same pinpoint accuracy of vocal leap; and a slight flattening of tone and colouring. For that is what we are talking about: a hint of this, a reduction of that or a slight something or other.

That is my only reservation; but it is a serious one because the new recordings are part of the raison d'être for the appearance of this Edition. I think Deutsche Grammophon would have performed just the same service if they had limited themselves to the compilation of the earlier recordings: almost all are glorious.

Whilst I can understand entirely the roundness of a recording of an aria from every opera of Verdi that, for the average listener, will be no big deal. First most of the newly recorded arias are not particularly memorable. Second the singing does not match the benchmark set by Domingo in the earlier recordings.

However, if you are a single focus Domingo addict then this is for you because it is indeed a tour de force from a colossus who bestrides the operatic world.

 

Robert McKechnie

 


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