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.
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.
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.
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.
see also Reviews
by Göran Forsling and Jonathan