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The Complete Francisco Viñas FRANCHETTI     
Germania:: Studenti, udite [2:05]
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
Aida: Celeste Aida [3:41]
Richard WAGNER (1813-1883)
Meistersinger:  Dall’alba tinto (Morgenlich leuchtend) [3:35]
Die Walküre: Cede il verno ai rai (Winterstürme) [3:26]
Lohengrin:  Ben altra prova (Höchstes Vertrau’n) [3:49]
Lohengrin:  Da voi lontan (In fernem Land) [3:00]
Lohengrin:  S’ei torna alfin (Mein lieber Schwan!) {Second part only} [3:05]
Giacomo MEYERBEER (1791-1864)
L’Africaine:  O paradiso [3:32]
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
Aida: Celeste Aida [3:33]
GASTALDON

Donna Clara [3:20]
GUETARY

Mi niña [3:07]
ÁLVAREZ

La partida [3:35]
Giacomo MEYERBEER (1791-1864)
L’Africaine:  O paradiso [3:33]
AMEDEI

Se ti dicessi [2:19]
MASCHERONI

Lorenza: Ecco mia giovinezza [2:38]
Richard WAGNER (1813-1883)
Lohengrin: Di’, non t’incantan (Atmest du nicht mit mir) [2:42]
Lohengrin: Da voi lontan (In fernem Land) [4:32]
Lohengrin:  Cigno fedel (Mein lieber Schwan!){First half only}[2:32]
Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1868)
Lucrezia Borgia: Di pescator ignobile [2:33] ÁLVAREZ
A Granada [3:18]
La partida [3:47]
GAZTAMBIDE
Un pleito [2:40]
GUETARY

Maria [3:07]
Mi niña [3:09]
Giacomo MEYERBEER (1791-1864)
Le Prophete:  Sopra Berta (Pour Bertha) [2:00]
Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1868)
Lucrezia Borgia: Di pescator ignobile [2:33]
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
Un Ballo in Maschera: Ma se m’è forza perderti [2:53]
Otello:  Ora e per sempre  [2:27]
GUETARY

Lily [2:07]  
Georges BIZET (1838-1875)
Carmen:  Il fior che avevi a me tu dato (La fleur que tu m’avais jetée) [3:11]
Richard WAGNER (1813-1883)
Meistersinger: Nel verno al piè (Am stillen Herd in Winterszeit) [2:34]
Meistersinger: Dall’alba tinto (Morgenlich leuchtend){Abridged} [2:38]
Lohengrin: Di’, non t’incantan (Atmest du nicht mit mir) [2:45]
Lohengrin: Ben altra prova (Höchstes Vertrau’n) [3:24]
Lohengrin: Da voi lontan (In fernem Land) [4:40]
Lohengrin: Cigno fedel (Mein lieber Schwan!) [5:51]
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
Aida: Celeste Aida [3:42]
Giacomo MEYERBEER (1791-1864)
L’Africaine:  O paradiso [3:38]
Richard WAGNER (1813-1883)
Die Walkure: Cede il verno ai rai (Winterstürme) [2:52]
Giacomo MEYERBEER (1791-1864)
Le Prophete:  Sopra Berta (Pour Bertha) [1:56]
Amilcare PONCHIELLI (1834-1886)        
La Gioconda; Cielo e mar [2:43] FRANCHETTI     
Germania:: Studenti, udite [2:23]
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
Aida: Pur ti riveggo…Fuggiam gli ardori with Esther Mazzoleni (soprano) [7:57]
Otello: Ora e per sempre [2:29]
Georges BIZET (1838-1875)
Carmen : Il fior che avevi a me tu dato (La fleur que tu m’avais jetée) [3:17]
FRANCHETTI
     
Germania: No non chiuder gli occhi vaghi [2:10]
Richard WAGNER (1813-1883)
Meistersinger: Dall’alba tinto (Morgenlich leuchtend) [3:43]
Arrigo BOITO (1842-1918)
Mefistofele: Dai campi, dai prati [2:37]
Mefistofele: Giunto sul passo estremo [3:18]
Amilcare PONCHIELLI (1834-1886)        
La Gioconda; Cielo e mar [2:47]      
Richard WAGNER (1813-1883)
Tannhäuser: Inno a Venere…Te vò lodar (Dir töne Lob!) [1:57]
Tannhäuser: Col cor contrito (Inbrunst im Herzen) [Romerzählung] [9:22]
FILIASI

In riva al mare “dedicated to the celebrated artist by the composer” [3:02]
TIRINDELLI

O primavera [2:53]
Richard WAGNER (1813-1883)
Rienzi: O Padre Santo (Allmächt’ger Vater) [6:22]
Tannhauser: Lodar tu devi il Dio (Den Gott der Liebe sollst du preisen) with Maria Alessandrovich (soprano) [2:36]
Tannhauser:  Preghiera (Auch ich darf ... Zum Heil den Sündigen zu führen) [3:13]
Tristan und Isolde: Su noi discendi (O sink’ hernieder) with Maria Alessandrovich (soprano) [5:06]
Parsifal: Amfortas! La piaga! (Amfortas! Die Wunde!) [8:44]      
Parsifal Si salvo, assolto (Sei heil, entsündigt und entsühnt) [3:06]
Giacomo MEYERBEER (1791-1864)
L’Africaine:  O paradiso [3:02]
CABALLERO
El lucero del Alba [3:10]
COTÒ

Ensayo de Lios [3:26]
ÁLVAREZ

Los ojos negros [3:08]
CHAPÍ

El milagro de la Virgen [3:11]
Pietro MASCAGNI (1863-1945)
Serenata [3:23]
Carl Maria von WEBER (1786-1826)
Die Freischutz: No, più soffrir… La finestra s’apre (Nein, länger trag’ ich nicht die Qualen… Jetzt ist wohl ihr Fenster offen) [6:12]
Richard WAGNER (1813-1883)
Lohengrin: Da voi lontan (In fernem Land) [4:47]
Francisco Viñas (tenor)
Unidentified accompanists
rec. 1903-13
MARSTON 53006-2 [3 CDs: 79:47 + 78:01 + 79:15] 

Francisco Viñas was born a Catalan near Barcelona in 1863 but he’s probably better known from the name on his Italian-made recordings; Vignas. His Barcelona debut was in 1888 in Lohengrin, a performance given very soon after his student years had concluded, and his career advanced with distinction until his final appearance in 1918. He died in his home city in 1933. 

Inevitably he sang in a wide variety of roles - Lohengrin, Cavelleria rusticana and Carmen in La Scala, and all over Italy, especially in San Carlo in Naples which was a favourite house of his. He sang frequently in Madrid and in Lisbon. By 1891 he was giving the London premiere of Cavelleria rusticana and success at Covent Garden was soon followed by an invitation to the Met in New York though he was not frequently heard there – illness, dislike of sea voyages and the sheer weight of numbers of fellow singers all playing their part. He sang alongside Albani, Calvé, Nordica, Plançon and Melba. 

Viñas’s training in the old Italian School makes itself apparent at every turn. His breath control, mastery of passaggio, and powerful open tone attest to his particular excellence. His diction is clear, vowels open, and dynamic nuances eloquently presented. It’s bel canto singing of a rarefied kind with legato and portamento prominent components of his expressive arsenal.

Probably his greatest claim on historical memory is as a pioneering Wagnerian. Lohengrin was his most famous role, one he sang repeatedly and one fortunately that he recorded. There’s a mellifluous Italianate ring to his 1903 Milan G & T of In fernem Land which sweeps to the end on a lovingly lascivious portamento. Similarly the second part of Mein lieber Schwan! (which was all that would fit) – this, like the other examples, sung in Italian of course – is sung with affectionate delicacy, the tonal quality of the voice capable of the subtlest inflexions running from a gentle floating of the tone to more hardened steel but with never a bark or incipient crudity of projection. The voice was very much as free and flexible in the long series of Fonotipias made between 1905 and 1913. Atmest du nicht mit mir was another example of his Lohengrin, in which he sings with an appealing grace and elegance with fine production but not forcing of the voice. New to his discography at this point was the first half of Mein lieber Schwan! dispatched with expressive diminuendi, fulsome portamenti and a compelling lyricism.

The steadiness of his tone can be heard in Ma se m’è forza perderti from Un Ballo in Maschera. In Ora e per sempre, recorded on the same day when he took in Donizetti, Bizet, Guetary as well as Verdi, we have the multi-variegated nature of his emotive responses to the Italian repertoire. It’s perhaps only in the extract from Carmen that one finds these lavish devices to be somewhat too cloying but this is very much a matter of degree. In November 1908 Fonotipia embarked on a series of recordings with orchestral forces of pieces that Viñas had previously made with piano accompaniment. This series doesn’t catch the voice with quite such detail and immediacy but is still instructive in the opportunities it offers for comparison and contrast. Incidentally I might note at this point that such remakes are common throughout the three CD set; we can hear his Celeste Aida twice, for instance, and note a peculiarity - how in the 1905 Fonotipia we can hear rather better than in the 1903 G & T Viñas inserting a stretched terminal consonant at the end of the phrase – so that it becomes in effect “Celeste Aida-am.”

There are altogether far too many points of interest in this set to itemise them all – and that includes the three sides from Tannhäuser – but it would be remiss indeed to ignore the four 1912 sides of music from Parsifal, which wasn’t to come into the public domain until December 1913. Of course Viñas made these persuasive recordings before he sang the role on stage and they include an interpolated high A flat in the final side. And one should also mention the numerous Italian and Spanish songs by such as Gaztambide, Álvarez, Guetary, Cotò, Chapí and others. They all possess an ineffable charm and assurance, and remain an important part of his discography.

Marston can always be relied upon to provide superb documentation with excellently produced photographic reproductions. The transfers are very forward, in house style, and the voice is therefore at the centre of the soundscape, to its benefit. Finally I ought to add an addendum. Marston has announced since the publication of this set that two missing Viñas sides have now been located and will be issued by them in a Spanish Tenors set. And he has also drawn attention to some pitching concerns, the main one of which relates to CD 1 track 4 – an aria from Die Walküre. He suggests variable speed play for those who have it to see whether it’s sung at score pitch or has been transposed. For what it’s worth I tend to agree with Marston on the latter theory.

Jonathan Woolf


 

 


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