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Beniamino Gigli. New York Recordings 1929-30. Gigli Edition: Volume 6
With Elisabeth Rethberg (soprano), Ezio Pinza (bass)
Beniamino Gigli (tenor) with singers as noted above and orchestras conducted by Bruno Reibold and Rosario Bourdon
Recorded New York, 1929-30
NAXOS 8.110267 [66.51]

Beniamino Gigli. New York Recordings 1929-30. Gigli Edition: Volume 6
Albano SEISMIT-DODA

Notte lunare [2 takes]
Friedrich von FLOTOW (1812-1883)

Martha - M’appari
Amilcare PONCHIELLI (1834-1886)

La Gioconda – Cielo e mar!
Georges BIZET (1838-1875)

Les Pêcheurs de perles – Je crois entendre encore [2 takes]
Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1848)

L’elisir d’amore – Una furtive lagrima
Luigi DENZA (1846-1922)

Se
Occhi turchini
Stanislao GASTALDON

Musica probita
Ernest DE CURTIS

Carmela
Fritz KREISLER (1875-1962)

Vecchio ritornello
Emanuele NUTILE

Mamma mia, che vo’ sapè
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)

I Lombardi – Or non più dinanzi al cielo [2 takes]
With Elisabeth Rethberg (soprano), Ezio Pinza (bass)
Attila – Te sol quest’anima [2 takes]
With Elisabeth Rethberg (soprano), Ezio Pinza (bass)
Beniamino Gigli (tenor) with singers as noted above and orchestras conducted by Bruno Reibold and Rosario Bourdon
Recorded New York, 1929-30
NAXOS 8.110267 [66.51]

Volume Six of Naxos’s exhaustive chronological Gigli series derives from Romophone 82005-2, which collectors will know covered the complete Victor recordings 1929-32. The exciting news about this Naxos disc is that it includes an unpublished take of Seismit-Doda’s Notte lunare – take two, which makes its first appearance. As before, readers will know that Mark Obert-Thorn has done some more restorative work on his earlier transfers. The differences are slight.

Volume Six is one that will appeal mostly to Gigli Completists. Apart from the two takes of Notte lunare – excellent to have but not a particularly interesting song – we have takes one and three of Je crois entendre encore (sung in Italian), two takes of Or non più dinanzi al cielo from I Lombardi – takes one and two, the first unpublished on 78 - and two of Attila’s Te sol quest’anima. Both these last were with the resplendent Elisabeth Rethberg. We also have a deal of Gigli in lighter fare singing the Neapolitan songs for which he was famed and also some Kreisler, and Flotow.

He is at something like his best in Ponchielli – the colours and half voice superbly deployed – and ringingly so. His Bizet is less impressive, Gigli seemingly intent on breaking legato, and his Donizetti much admired by some but not by me. The run is loose and the sobs a portent of the stylistic anachronisms to come. But mainly we get the charm and the effulgence of a voice that so captivated his listeners. This applies to De Curtis, whom Gigli did so much to popularise on disc and the honeyed Nutile which, despite a few catches in the throat and emotive pleading, is a superb example of his art in lighter material. The all-star vocal trio he formed with Rethberg and Pinza is devoted to two Verdi performances, in two takes of each. Rethberg is immensely impressive in I Lombardi and Pinza in Attila with Gigli providing the metallic spark to set their voices off. There’s little to choose between the takes and the previously unpublished ones have survived in an excellent state of preservation.

Jonathan Woolf



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