Aureole etc.




Nimbus on-line




If it’s the Czech works you’re after, do not hesitate

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


CD REVIEW

Some items
to consider

 


Enjoy the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra wherever you are. App available for iOS and Android


Mahler symphony 6 Nott


Vaughan Williams Symphony 3 etc.


Lyrita New Recording


Lyrita Premiere Recordings

Lyrita 4CDs £16 incl.postage

Lyrita 4CDs £16 incl.postage


Decca Phase 4 - 40CDs


Judith Bailey, George Lloyd


BAX Orchestral pieces


CASKEN Violin Concerto

Schumann Symphonies Rattle


Complete Brahms
Bargain price

 

 

 

 

 

Availability: Classicsonline

Gioacchino ROSSINI (1792–1868)
Il barbiere di Siviglia (1816)
Luigi Alva (tenor) – Conte d’Almaviva; Melchiorre Luise (bass) – Bartolo; Maria Callas (soprano) – Rosina; Tito Gobbi (baritone) – Figaro; Nicola Rossi-Lemeni (bass) – Basilio; Pierluigi Latinucci (bass) – Fiorello); Anna Maria Canali (soprano) – Berta; Giuseppe Nessi (tenor) – Un Ufficiale
Orchestra e Coro del Teatro alla Scala/Carlo Maria Giulini
rec. live, Teatro alla Scala, Milano, 1956
HÄNSSLER PROFIL PHO 8015 [72:58 + 67:43]
Experience Classicsonline



Without knowing anything about the provenance of this recording one thinks one will be in for an inspired and inspirational evening. Without looking for further details one puts disc one in the player and leans back. Overture!

The opening phrases are sensitively sculptured, though with some heavy accents, but he makes you listen. Giulini, isn’t it? One doesn’t expect outgoing jolliness from him, rather nobility and this is rounded, even mellow music-making. But isn’t the recording poor? The orchestra doesn’t sound too bad but there is no real bloom and there is a serious lack of upper frequencies. And in the last resort there is also a lack of fizz in the playing – and in the conducting. Rossini would have been depressed. Some minutes into the opera proper even I begin to feel depressed. The sound doesn’t improve, quite the contrary, and the measured tempos make the whole affair rather bloodless.

Luigi Alva has to struggle to keep the line in Ecco ridente, but he sings with elegance and mellifluous tone and there is also some metal in it. But it is bloodless.

Wait, here comes Tito Gobbi, and he is never dull. No, he is in ebullient mood, but he tends to shout. He is as detailed as ever in his pointing of words and the patter singing is secure, but is he any fun? No, I find this a reading from the brain, not from the heart, and it doesn’t get better. The sound also deteriorates, it comes and goes due to the placing of microphones – was there more than one? – and it distorts. Enter Callas and Una voce poco fa is technically brilliant, as far as I can judge through the veils of aural mist, but does she charm the listener? Not a bit.

Shall I go on or shall we stop playing hide-and-seek? I knew from the beginning the origin of this: Maria Callas, who primarily sang the heavy dramatic roles, had an early success in 1950 in Rossini’s Il turco in Italia. In 1954 she recorded the role for EMI and the following season she wanted to do it La Scala under the direction of Franco Zeffirelli. Again it was a success, so for February 1956 she demanded Il barbiere di Siviglia. This time she didn’t want Zeffirelli – nobody knows why – and instead La Scala dusted off an old production which had never been very good in the first place and with no strong director at hand the singers had to create their role portraits on their own and what has been intimidated during the first half-hour is confirmed with knobs on as the comedy goes on. There is a lot of over-acting, especially from Callas, about whom a critic wrote that her interpretation of the role was ‘nearly worthy of a psychoanalytical study.’ She may be the worst sinner but not the only one. Luigi Alva sometimes fall in the same trap and Gobbi, for all his acting abilities, seems less than inspired. There also seems to have been an anti-Callas claque in the audience, who loudly booed her and, even worse, greeted Nicola Rossi-Lemeni’s disastrous La calunnia with ovations. The veteran Melchiorre Luise, who plays Bartolo, is more or less the best of the bunch, and that in a role that really invites over-acting. I am not 100% certain but probably it was the premiere that was recorded. The CD cover only gives 1956.

Callas and Gobbi admirers are lucky though, since EMI, despite this unfortunate production, chose to record the opera under studio conditions in Kingsway Hall a year later. Alva sings Almaviva again, which he did during the next fifteen years another four times, and with Nicola Zaccaria as Basilio and the excellent Fritz Ollendorff as Bartolo this is a set worth owning. In is now in EMI’s Great Recordings of the Century series. See review.

And the present set – for the dump? There is really little positive to say about it but inveterate Callas fans will still want it, I suppose, and as a blueprint for the EMI set it might at least be valuable as a reminder that something close to catastrophe can be turned, with good guiding – Walter Legge was the producer – into something valuable.

To end on a negative note, though: the track-list is inadequate, there are two few cue-points and the inlay has a long essay in German and English on Rossini and Il barbiere di Siviglia and thumbnail bios on the artists but nothing about the actual recording. That information comes from Tony Locantro’s liner notes for the GROC issue referred to above.

Göran Forsling


 


Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Hyperion

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Alto
Arcodiva
Atoll
CDAccord
Cameo Classics
Centaur
Hallé
Hortus
Lyrita
Nimbus
Northern Flowers
Redcliffe
Sheva
Talent
Toccata Classics


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample
 


EXPLORE MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews

 

Discographies
   Composer
      Composer surveys
   National
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
.
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

Interviews
With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site

Nostalgia

Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Comment
Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure

Announcements

 

Community
Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Reviewers
Pat and present

Helpers invited!

Resources
How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips


Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Publishers
Other links
Newsgroups
Web News sites etc

PotPourri
A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Questionnaire    
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Dictionary
Magazines
Newsfeed  
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools




Return to Review Index

Untitled Document


Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.