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Leonard Warren
VERDI and popular song.
RCA Victor Orchestra/Frank Black
rec. 26 and 28 September 1950 Original Victor LP Catalogue Number LM 94
Leonard Warren (baritone) with accompaniments as above
NIMBUS PRIMA VOCE NI7939/40 [76:22 + 76:31]

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
Un Ballo in Maschera, Alzati! là tuo figlio ... Eri tu [6:29]
Metropolitan Orchestra/Dimitri Mitropoulos
rec. 9 January 1955 Victor LP LM 1911
Il Trovatore - Il balen ... Qual suono!...Per me ora fatale [7:26]
RCA Victor Orchestra/Renato Cellini with Nicolai Moscona and The Robert Shaw Chorale
rec. 11 March 1952 Victor LP LM 6008
Simon Boccanegra - Dinne, perche in ques'eremo ... Figlia! a tal nome palpito [9:39]
RCA Victor Orchestra/Renato Cellini with Astrid Varnay
rec. 4 February 1950 Victor LP WDM 1426
Rigoletto - Pari siamo [3:34]
RCA Victor Orchestra/Renato Cellini
rec. 25 May 1950 Victor LP LM 6101
Rigoletto - Povero Rigoletto ... Cortigiani, vil razza dannata [7:41]
RCA Victor Orchestra/Renato Cellini with The Robert Shaw Chorale
rec. 25 May/6 April 1950 Victor LP LM 6101
La Forza del Destino - Solenne in quest'ora [3:56]
RCA Victor Orchestra/Renato Cellini with Jan Peerce
rec. 7 April 1955 Victor LP LM 1916
La Forza del Destino - Morir! tremenda cosa ... urna fatale [7:31]
RCA Victor Orchestra/Renato Cellini with Raymond Keast
rec. 16 February 1950 Victor LP LM 1916
La Forza del Destino - Invano, Alvaro ... Ah! una suora mi lasciasti [8:53]
RCA Victor Orchestra/Renato Cellini with Jan Peerce
rec. 7 April 1955 Victor LP LM 1916
Aida - Ciel! mio padre ... Rivedrai le forester imbalsamate [8:24]
with Zinka Milanov. Rome Opera House Orchestra/Jonel Perlea
rec. 4 July 1955 Victor LP LM 6122
Otello - Credo in un Dio crudel [4:45]
Rome Opera House Orchestra/Vincenzo Bellezza
rec. 4 July 1955 Victor LP LM 1932
Otello - Era la notte [3:36]
RCA Victor Orchestra/Jonel Perlea
rec. 3 March 1955 Victor LP LM 1932
Falstaff - È sogno? O realtà? [4:22]
Rome Opera House Orchestra/Vincenzo Bellezza
rec. 4 July 1955 Victor LP LM 1932
Sea Shanties

Blow the Man Down [2:18]
The Drummer and the Cook [2:17]
Haul-A-Way, Joe [2:55]
The Drunken Sailor [2:38]
A-Rovin' [2:54]
Low Lands [3:25]
Shenandoah [3:43]
Rio Grande [2:42]
The Robert Shaw Chorale and Orchestra/Robert Shaw
rec. 8 and 9 July 1947 Victor LP Catalogue Number: LM 1168
Rolling Down to Rio - songs of Kipling, arrangements by Frank Black

On the Road to Mandalay [3:38]
Rolling Down to Rio (Edward German) [2:16]
Gunga Din (Spross) [5.26]
Recessional (DeKoven) [4:39]
Danny Deever (Damrosch) [5:09]
Boots (McCall) [3:05]
Mother O'Mine (Tours) [2:39]
Smuggler's Song (Kernochan) [3:03]
RCA Victor Orchestra/Frank Black
rec. 2 and 5 October 1951 Victor LP Catalogue Number LM 147
Songs for Everyone

America the Beautiful (Ward) [3:14]
Love's Old Sweet Song (Molloy) [3:29]
Mother Machree (Olcott) [2:23]
A Little Bit of Heaven (Ball) [3:27]
Home on the Range (Guion) [3:48]
Ol' Man River (from Show Boat) (Kern) [3:30]
Battle Hymn of the Republic (Steffe) [3:39]

This two-disc set from Nimbus happily conjoins two facets of Warren’s art – Verdi and popular song. Finely transferred and with considerable immediacy they allow one to appreciate his art in all its powerful presence, the voice impressively though occasionally immovably big.

The Verdi sides date from 1950-55. In the extract from Simon Boccanegra he’s joined by Astrid Varnay for a truly resplendent piece of singing, though the critical might contend that his expressive insight is not the equal of, say, Tibbett’s in this repertoire. Pari siamo derives from the complete Rigoletto made in 1950; again, attractive in places it shows that the voice had a tendency to spread, a feature of Warren’s recordings that one has to note in passing. Nevertheless one can certainly gauge the impressive theatrical presence that he inhabited from its companion extract Povero Rigoletto ... Cortigiani, vil razza dannata with the voice dark but flexible.

The excerpts from La Forza del Destino feature Warren with Jan Peerce and Raymond Keast; Warren is certainly the most commanding, with Peerce failing to impress in Solenne in quest’ora. Examples of his Falstaff exist from the 1940s but this single example demonstrates that his theatrical powers had deepened and matured in the intervening decade; characterful and impressive.

The second disc consists of sea shanties, Kipling songs and an RCA album called "Songs for Everyone." The first was recorded in 1947, the second in 1951 and the last in 1950. This is the other side of Warren who’s heard in unbuttoned and forceful mood in all three selections. The Robert Shaw Chorale sounds altogether too spick and span in the Shanties but Warren is on good form in Haul-A-Way, Joe singing here, and elsewhere, with considerable virility and robustness. The Kipling album sees a procession of favourites in arrangements by Frank Black who also conducts the RCA Victor orchestra. Again this is finely done and I prefer the arrangements to some others but there are finer performances available of most if not all the songs. The final selection sees some stirring national items and some sentiment as well. The sentimentalised balladry of Love’s Old Sweet Song finds a stout practitioner in Warren and there are intimations of McCormack in A Little Bit of Heaven.

The transfers, as noted briefly above, are warm and very "present" – which certainly suits the performances. Alan Bilgora writes the good notes. A disc of two halves then, reflecting Warren’s very considerable gifts and exposing one or two flaws.

Jonathan Woolf



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