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The Gigli Edition : Vol. 12 - The London Recordings 1946-1947
Fromental HALÉVY (1799 – 1862)
La Juive: Rachel, quand du Seigneur* [4:49]
Edouard LALO (1823 – 1892)
Le Roi d’Ys: Puisqu’on ne peut … Vainement [ma] ô bien-aimée* [3:27]
Paolo TOSTI (1846 – 1916)
Parted* [3:27]
Alan MURRAY (1890-1952)
I’ll walk beside you* [2:41]
Salvatore CARDILLO (1874-1947)
Core ’ngrato* [3:59]
Jules MASSENET (1842 – 1912)
Manon: Je suis seul! … Ah! Fuyez, douce image;* [4:44]
Werther: Pourquoi me réveiller?* [3:08]
Rodolfo FALVO (1873-1937)
Dicitencello vuje* [3:19]
Traditional
Adeste fideles** [2:44]
Franz GRUBER (1787 – 1863)
Silent night, holy night** [2:32]
Franz SCHUBERT (1797 – 1828)
Ave Maria** [4:27]
Pietro MASCAGNI (1863 – 1945)
Cavalleria rusticana: O Lola (Siciliana)*** [2:47]
Fryderyk CHOPIN (1810 – 1849)
Reviens mon amour (from Étude in E major Op. 10 No. 3) [Tristesse]** [2:34]
Santiago CITTADINI (18??-19??)
Ninna nanna** [2:58]
Paolo TOSTI (1846 – 1916)
Segreto** [4:44]
Santiago CITTADINI (18??-19??)
Nostalgia d’amore** [3:21]
Alberto WILLIAMS (1862-1952)
Vidalita, Op. 45 No. 3** [2:49]
Carlos Lopez BUCHARDO (1881-1948)
Canción del Carretero (from Seis Canciónes al estilo popular)** [3:22]
May BRAHE (1885 - 1956)
Bless this house** [2:50]
Arthur A. PENN (1876-1941)
Smilin’ through** [2:23]
Beniamino Gigli (tenor)
*Royal Opera House Orchestra, Covent Garden/Rainaldo Zamboni;  **Orchestra/Rainaldo Zamboni, with chorus, Herbert Dawson, organ, and Kitty Wilson, harp; *** with Kitty Wilson (harp).
rec. Studio: 4 December 1946, Abbey Road, London, (tr. 1 – 4); 13 December 1946, Kingsway Hall, London (tr. 5 – 8); 26 November, 1947, Kingsway Hall, London (tr. 9 – 12); 27 November 1947, Kingsway Hall, London (tr. 13 – 16); 30 November, 1947, Studio 1, Abbey Road, London, (tr. 17 – 20).
NAXOS 8.111101 [67:05]

 

All lovers of i grandi tenori will surely want to add this latest Naxos Gigli volume to their collection. The transfers by Mark Obert-Thorn are up to the high standards one has come to expect from him and there are useful – if relatively brief – notes by Alan Blyth. Recording details are given in full. There is rather less detail on the composers, and I have tried to supply it above, wherever possible.

Those who simply want a sampler of Gigli would probably get greater satisfaction from some of the earlier volumes in the series. As he approached sixty Gigli’s voice very naturally began to reveal some signs of wear and tear; some of his vocal mannerisms, which can tend to interrupt the melodic line, had become deeply ingrained. Nor is some of the material of the highest or most enduring interest. For all the continued beauty of Gigli’s voice I shan’t be in a hurry to listen again to his thoroughly sentimentalised Ave Maria, for example. The same applies to Adeste Fideles and Silent Night. Nor are the songs of Murray, Brahe and  Penn much to my taste – and I suspect not much to the taste of many other contemporaries. They encourage Gigli’s innate tendency towards the sentimental. Nor is Gigli’s English diction entirely satisfactory.

But there is, of course, much to admire and enjoy here. Even towards the end of his career Gigli is capable of passages of extraordinary vocal beauty and still retains much of his remarkable sonic charisma. ‘Rachel, quand du Seigneur’ from Halévy’s La Juive is sung with commanding eloquence and passion and the aria from Lalo is also impressive. These two arias are sung in the original French, while two arias from Massenet are sung in Italian. ‘Pourquoi me reveiller’, from Werther, is perhaps the high spot of the collection, a performance in which Gigli’s vocal control is little short of phenomenal, not least in the pianissimo passages. Gigli rarely fails to hit the target in Neapolitan song and those by Tosti, Cardillo, Falvo and Cittadini will be a joy to those who, like me, enjoy this repertoire. My only doubt concerns the wisdom of singing the first of Tosti’s songs in English. The cancíon by the Argentinian Carlos Lopez Buchardo is a striking piece, not often heard.

So, not consistently representative of Gigli at his very greatest, but a valuable contribution to  a valuable series and one which contains enough great singing for it to give even the non-specialist a great deal of pleasure.

Glyn Pursglove

see also Reviews by Göran Forsling and Jonathan Woolf

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