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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    


 

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Plácido Domingo - Moments of Passion
Plácido DOMINGO Jr.
1. Willkommen bei uns [2:42]
Opernchor des Saarländischen Staatstheaters, Radio-Sinfonieorchester Saarbrücken/Leonid Grin
Giacomo PUCCINI
2. Turandot: Nessun dorma [2:58]
Chorus of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Jesus Luis Cobos
Augustin LARA
3. Granada [4:05]
VVC Symphony/Beby Silvetti
Giacomo PUCCINI
4. Tosca: E lucevan le stelle [3:05]
New Philharmonia Orchestra/Zubin Mehta
Giuseppe VERDI (1813 – 1901)
5. Rigoletto: La donna é mobile [2:15]
London Symphony Orchestra/Nello Santi
John DENVER
6. Perhaps Love [2:57]
John Denver (guitar and vocals), Orchestra Lee Holdridge/Lee Holdridge
Giuseppe VERDI
7. Aida: Se quell guerrier io fossi! … Celeste Aida [4:12]
Metropolitan Opera Orchestra/James Levine
Georg Frideric HANDEL (1685 – 1759)
8. Giulio Cesare: Svegliatevi nel cor [5:22]
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Edward Downes
Giuseppe VERDI
9. Rigoletto: Questa o quella [1:50]
New Philharmonia Orchestra/Nello Santi
Giacomo PUCCINI
10. Tosca: Dammi i colori … Recondita armonia [3:08]
Paul Plishka (bass), New Philharmonia Orchestra/Zubin Mehta
Friedrich von FLOTOW
11. Martha: M’appari [3:47]
London Symphony Orchestra/Nello Santi
Ernesto LECUONA
12. Andalucía [2:49]
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Lee Holdridge
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756 – 1791)
13. Don Giovanni: Il mio tesoro [4:23]
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Edward Downes
Giacomo PUCCINI
14. Gianni Schicchi: Firenze è come un albero fiorito [2:13]
London Symphony Orchestra/Lorin Maazel
Ruggiero LEONCAVALLO
15. Pagliacci: Recitar! Mentre preso … Vesti la giubba [4:11]
London Symphony Orchestra/Nello Santi
Giacomo PUCCINI
16. La bohème: O soave fanciulla [3:56] Montserrat Caballé (soprano), Sherrill Milnes (baritone), London Philharmonic Orchestra/Georg Solti
Lee HOLDRIDGE/Carol CONNORS
17. A Love Until the End of Time [3:02]
Maureen McGovern (vocals)
Giuseppe VERDI
18. La traviata: Libiamo ne’ lieti calici (Brindisi) [3:11]
Inva Mula-Tchako (soprano), Nina Stemme (soprano), Ainhoa Arteta (soprano), Kwangchul Youn (bass), Les Musiciens de l’Orchestre de l’Opéra de Paris-Bastille/Eugene Kohn
Plácido DOMINGO Jr.
19. Willkommen bei uns (Long version) [2:42]
Opernchor des Saarländischen Staatstheaters, Radio-Sinfonieorchester Saarbrücken/Leonid Grin
Plácido Domingo (tenor)
rec. (tracks 1 and 19) 12 June, 2006 at Grosser Sendersaal, Studio 1, Saarländischer Rundfunk, Germany, and 18 June 2006 at Sony Music Studios, Tokyo, Japan
No venues and dates given for the rest of the tracks.
SONY 82876877052 [65:29]


“Another new disc with the indefatigable Plácido Domingo! Oh, Gosh! And that song he sang on TV at the World Cup final. And look: Nessun dorma! And that’s another song … aria, is it? … and Granada and … Where’s my overcoat? I have to rush down to the record store at once!”

Misleading through omitting information is just as unethical as an outright untruth. The above monologue could very well be close to the mark for more than one mildly informed music-lover, who, even after scrutinizing the inlay text might get the impression that these are new recordings. Selling at premium price it should be, but the bitter truth is that only the first and last of the nineteen tracks, the song from the World Cup final in two versions, are new. The rest is a hotchpotch of material from the BMG and Sony catalogues, recorded during the last 38 years. I wouldn’t like to think that the respectable Sony have deliberately concealed information to deceive innocent Domingo admirers, but …

Of course everything on this disc belongs in the premium quality department, musically and artistically. Domingo is at his inimitable best with golden tone, ardent delivery and wholehearted involvement, but most of this music is – or at least has been – available at mid-price and in much better compilations.

Of the titles I can immediately identify, tracks 8 and 13 are from his first RCA recital Romantic Arias, recorded in August 1968 and released the following year. Tracks 5 and 11 are from Domingo Sings Caruso, recorded July 1971 and released 1972. Track 9 is from La Voce d’Oro (The Golden Voice), recorded June 1972 and released 1973. These three LPs, plus some extra material, have been available on a double CD, The Young Domingo. Tracks 4, 10, 15 and 16 are culled from complete recordings made in the mid-1970s, also for RCA, while the Gianni Schicchi arietta, which was also on the La Voce d’Oro LP, here is taken from the complete CBS recording from a few years later, 1977 I think, a legendary recording with Ileana Cotrubas as a lovely Gianetta and the old Tito Gobbi a masterly Schicchi. The Aida aria is from his fourth, and presumably last, complete recording of the work, made for Sony some 15 years ago. Of the remaining items Granada (track 3) comes from a CD entitled Por amor, published in 1998 with the sub-heading Plácido Domingo canta las canciones de Agustin Lara and John Denver’s Perhaps Love (track 6) was the title song of an album with popular melodies, including a fine version of Annie’s Song. The remaining items I am not sure about. Nessun dorma, never quite a favourite of Domingo’s, was on his earliest recital, a Telefunken LP with Nello Santi conducting. His first ever recording of Celeste Aida my first contact with this marvellous voice was on a sampler LP bought in early 1970. He recorded the role complete for DG with Karajan, the first of only two collaborations with that conductor. The present recording is from some other occasion; it is faded out which seems to indicate that it isn’t from a traditional concert and the presence of a chorus points to some large-scale project. For the serious collector this would have been valuable information. I have not done any research since the disc obviously isn’t aimed at specialists. Domingo completists will need it for the ‘World Cup Song’, which, to be honest, is the least interesting item. Adding to the slipshod presentation, not even the total playing time is given anywhere on the jewel-case or the inlay.

After all this grumbling it is a pleasure to report that there is a tremendous amount here to admire. First and foremost is the sheer consistency of his singing. There is very little difference in voice quality between the two arias from 1968 and, say, Granada, from 1998. Thirty years in any singer’s career is a long time-span, indeed, especially for a tenor, and few have sustained the youthfulness and sap in the voice better than Domingo. Even the World Cup Song, recorded a few months ago, proves that the golden voice is still in excellent shape, as several recent issues have also borne out. He has to work harder today and the notes are not produced with the same ease as before but for a man of 65 the results are still remarkable.

Readers who must have the World Cup Song need not hesitate and the quality of the transfers of the other items is first class but I persist in thinking that this is a slipshod and even unethical product. It is an unworthy homage to a singer I have admired wholeheartedly ever since I first heard that Celeste Aida on 1 April 1970.

Göran Forsling

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