before in this long running series – we’re up to volume seven
now – the overwhelming majority of tracks here derive from Romophone’s
Gigli edition. The exception is the previously unpublished Tosti
Addio, recorded at the
same session in June 1931 that gave us The Lost Chord, Tosti’s Goodbye
and the Manon En fermant
les yeux. Though Mark Obert-Thorn has worked on his transfers
the differences certainly won’t warrant investigation if you have
those Romophones; others however will welcome another slice of
Gigli spanning recording studios in London, New York and Milan. This chronological
survey takes us to October 1932.
programme falls conveniently into entertaining genres, from parlour
Tosti, through Gigli’s famed operatic assumptions to Spanish and
Neapolitan popular songs and not forgetting inter
alia an orchestrated Schubert and the Cujus
animam from Rossini’s Stabat
Mater. It certainly offers an interesting view on priorities
recording career after the Depression.
English is well nigh incomprehensible in the Tosti and Sullivan
but what a wealth of tone and panache he brings to the difficult–to-shape
Goodbye. He doesn’t better Caruso here – no one can – but the climax
is wonderfully virile, even if he has been over-forceful earlier.
The next take in that session was the Manon and here he deploys
that exquisite mezza voce before launching into the religiosity
of The Lost Chord with all the fervour of a true believer. I don’t think
you’ll be convinced by the Gigli sob at the end or by the more-is-less
orchestral accompaniment but you’ll admire the sheer gall of it.
course it’s in the Puccini that we hear the core of his repertoire,
here laced with more mezza voce, hardening middle voice, mini
sobs, and a wickedly naughty portamento (up a third I think) to
end. Of course he wasn’t always the adroit stylist. I happen to
find his Gounod Faust rather disappointing and with an excessive
widening of the vibrato but the Bizet atones – in Italian, again,
of course but executed with a thread of silken legato and if there’s
a smidgen of sentimentality about it, who’s counting. The Spanish
songs feature such as guitar accompaniment and his Schubert is
quasi-operatic, almost a sob-laden verismo aria. The Neapolitan
songs are echt Gigli and recorded in Milan.
transfers have utilised good originals and noise reduction hasn’t
dampened the higher frequencies. Good transfers then and followers
of the series will be well satisfied with No.7.
by Robert Farr