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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    



The Very Best of Victoria de los ANGELES (soprano) b. 1923
CD1
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924)

Gianni Schicchi, ‘O mio babbino caro’
Madama Butterfly, ‘Un bel di vedremo’
La Boheme, ‘Sí Mi chiamano Mimi’. (mono)
Suor Angelica, ‘Senza mamma’
Pietro MASCAGNI (1863-1945)

Cavalleria rusticana, ‘Voi lo sapete, o mamma’. (mono)
Ruggero LEONCAVALLO (1858-1919)

Pagliacci, ‘Hui! Stridono lassú’.(mono)
Alfredo CATALANI (1854-1893)

La Wally, ‘Ebben? Ne andro lontana’. (mono)
Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868)

La Cenerentola, ‘Necqui all'affano ..., Non più mesto’. (mono)
Il barbiere di Siviglia, ‘Una voce poco fa’
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) La Traviata, ‘É strano!…Ah, fors’ é lui ... Sempra libera’
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Le nozze di Figaro, ‘Porgi, amor’. (mono)
Richard WAGNER (1813-1883)

Tannhäuser, ‘Dich, teure Halle’ (mono)
Lohengrin, ‘Einsam in truben Tagen’ (mono)
Jules MASSENET (1842-1912) Manon, ‘Adieu notre petite table’. (mono)
Charles GOUNOD (1818-1893) Faust, ‘Ah! Je ris’
Georges BIZET (1838-1875) Carmen, ‘L’amour est un rebelle’ (Habanera)
CD2

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) ‘Auf Flugeln des Gesenges’
Edvard GRIEG (1843-1897) ‘Ich Ifebe dich’
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) ‘Wiegenlied’
Leo DELIBES (1836-1891) ‘Les filles de Cadiz’
Xavier MONTSALVATGE (1912-2002) ‘Cinco canciones negra’
Manuel De FALLA (1880-1942) El amor brujo, ‘Cancions del amor dolido’ and ‘fatuo’
Joseph CANTELOUBE (1879-1957) Chants d'Auvergne; ‘La pastoura’, ‘Bailero’, ‘Chut, chut’, ‘Uno jionto’
George Frederic HANDEL (1685-1759) Joshua, ‘Oh! Had I Jubal’s lyre’
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) ‘An die Musik’
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) ‘Vergebliches Ständchen’
Henri DUPARC (1848-1933) ‘L’invitation au voyage’
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) Shéherazade: ‘La Flute enchantée’; ‘Chants populaires’
Joaquin VALVERDE (1846-1910) ‘Clavelitos!’
Joaquin NIN (1879-1949) ‘Malaquena’. ‘Granadina’
Tomás BARRERA (1870-1938) and Rafael CALLEJA (1874-1938) ‘Adios, Granada’
Gerónimo GIMENEZ (1854-1923)

La Tempranica, ‘Zapateado’
Various orchestras and conductors. Recorded between 1950 and 1973
Bargain price
EMI CLASSICS 7243 5 75888 2 [2CDs: 78.34+75.57]



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Victoria de los Angeles made her debut in 1941 arriving at Covent Garden in 1950 and the New York ‘Met’ in 1951 singing every season there until 1961. She appeared at Bayreuth 1961-62 and also sang at La Scala and the Paris Opera. Los Angeles had a charming stage presence with an exceptionally beautiful light lyric voice; she perhaps found her true metier on the concert platform with Gerald Moore at the piano. His skills certainly brought out the best in her, particularly in the German ‘ Lied’ (CD 2 trs 18-20). However, that is to jump ahead. Disc 1 opens with her charming rendering of the arietta from Gianni Schicchi from the renowned recording with Gobbi as the eponymous rogue. Her voice is ideally suited for the role of the young Llauretta as it was for Mimi (tr 3) from the equally famous New York Boheme conducted by Beecham, and which for many was, and is, the benchmark recording, albeit in mono. Personally I find Freni, for both Karajan (Decca) and Schippers (featured on her disc in this series) to be superior for the greater variety of tonal colours within the voice. For this is the rub with los Angeles, no matter the artistry, there can be a sameness in the voice, and given an added tweetyness in some of these mono recordings, that can soon tire the ear. Yet in other instances she brings adequate colour to complement her fine vocal nuance and characterisation, often when least expected as in ‘Una voce poco fa’ (tr 9) or ‘Elsa’s Dream’ (tr 11). Where I find she really excels is in Marguerite’s ‘Jewel Song’ from Faust (tr 15). A pity that the extended scene including ‘The King of Thule’ is not included.

As an HMV-contracted artist, de los Angeles also featured on several recordings of ‘verismo’ operas that were in no way suitable for her vocal strengths. I would certainly have preferred a sample of her Maria Boccanegra, which suited her well, to the likes of the ‘Cav and Pag’ extracts included here. Disc 2 includes a very wide range styles and languages, and which owes much to her concert experience. Also included is music of her native Spain. The Montsalvatge and Luna pieces (tr 5-10) are also on the Caballé discs in this series. In tr 8 the wisp of tone is so pure and effective, whilst in the brief ‘Canto negra’ (tr 9) there is a vast variety of colour in her vivacious rendering. The 1966 recording of ‘El amor brujo’, with Giulini conducting, is another highlight (tr 11-12) with the use of unexpected chest tone and very sensuous singing. Her two ground-breaking discs of ‘Chants d’Auvergne’ are represented (tr13-16). Whilst los Angeles’ tone is not as sumptuous as Te Kanawa (Decca) there is better characterisation of what is being sung.

The recording dates range from 1950 to 1973 with some of the earlier mono recordings catching an edge to the voice. The brief booklet includes reference to the singer’s roles, recording dates, orchestras, conductors etc. in English, French and German. In summary a bit of a ‘curates egg’, but there is enough here to satisfy fans and interest others with perhaps less awareness of this singer and her considerable artistry.

Robert J Farr



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