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

 

 

 

 

Not available in the USA

alternatively Classicsonline Crotchet

 

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
Otello - lyric drama in four acts (1887)
Libretto by Arrigo Boito (from Shakespeare)
Otello - Ramón Vinay
Desdemona - Herva Nelli
Iago - Giuseppe Valdengo
Cassio - Virginio Assandri
Emilia - Nan Merriman
Roderigo - Leslie Chabay
Lodovico - Nicola Moscona
Montàno - Arthur Newman
NBC Symphony Orchestra and Choruses/Arturo Toscanini
rec. Acts I -II broadcast: 6 December 1947; Acts III-IV broadcast: 13 December 1947
NAXOS HISTORICAL 8.111320-21 [75:17 + 75:04]

Experience Classicsonline


Toscanini’s famous 1947 performance of Verdi’s penultimate opera has long been accorded the status of a gramophone classic. Toscanini, played in the first performance of Otello at La Scala in 1887 and here some sixty(!) years later his conducting of the work was astounding in its fire and drive. Originally spread over two evenings, the performance was subsequently issued on LP minus the studio announcements; what we have here are remasterings of the original lacquers of the complete studio performances, including the announcer’s introduction and narration. This selfsame studio broadcast - as opposed to the “tidied-up” commercial release - also appeared on Guild a couple of years back. Guild utilised the original studio masters rather than subsequent RCA editions which attempted to superimpose artificial reverberation to compensate for the dry studio acoustic. The sound on these Naxos CDs is singularly clear and bright, with an amazing dynamic range for its time. Given the notoriously dry acoustics of many of Toscanini’s studio performances, there is a surprising amount of depth and perspective in many of the large ensembles. The inclusion of the announcer’s comments may be a mixed blessing to some: on the one hand they help to recreate the feel of the original broadcast, on the other hand many listeners may feel that they interrupt the progress of the music. Easily remedied by programming them out.
 

Ramón Vinay, here captured at the outset of his career went on to become one of the world’s reigning exponents of the taxing title role before the appearance of the trumpet-toned but unsubtle Mario del Monaco in the 1950s. Vinay’s baritonal voice lent extra weight to this and subsequent heldentenor excursions. He also sang Tristan, Siegmund and other roles at Bayreuth and memorably undertook the role of Otello for Furtwängler in Salzburg in 1951. His is a big, rather ungainly voice, but what dramatic involvement! Toscanini himself said of the singer “He is a complete artist, magnificent and unsurpassed in roles which require power and violence. At the present time no other artist comes near Vinay’s interpretation of Otello.” The old Record Guide was a bit sniffy about his performance, and it’s true that in recent years Placido Domingo has created a more human, rounded portrayal of the Moor. But Domingo has had the benefit of over thirty years experience of the role which Vinay at this stage in his career did not; his remains a remarkably imaginative performance. 

Herva Nelli’s Desdemona has also received some lukewarm responses over the years. Hers is a pure, “white” sort of voice, not lacking in power for some of the bigger ensembles but overall giving a rather uninvolved impression, and perhaps lacking just the last degree of imagination. She rises splendidly to her Act IV scenes, however, and both the Willow Song and Ave Maria are affectingly sung. The studio audience here and elsewhere is remarkably quiet – they knew how to behave in those days! 

Valdengo sings a characterful Iago; not as nuanced or as commanding as Gobbi, for instance, but a fine performance nonetheless. His Credo is magnificently sung, if rather generalised in its portrayal of evil. Other singers have delved more deeply into the psychological aspects of the character. 

When all is said and done it is Toscanini’s, or rather Verdi’s, show. Listen to how, in the opening scenes, Toscanini is careful to bring out the rhythmic energy of the music, allowing us to hear orchestral figurations that are frequently overwhelmed by a welter of sound. Then he can fine down his forces to a mere whisper for the Act I duet or the Act IV scenes, but at the same time never losing the sense of forward momentum that characterises his performance. Acts 2 and 3, with Iago’s plotting coming to its tragic fruition, are gripping in their cumulative power. The spectacle of Desdemona’s humiliation and Otello’s collapse against the very public background of the big Act 3 ensembles are made to contrast with the personal grief and tragedy of Desdemona’s murder in Act 4 and Otello’s eventual discovery – too late – that he has been Iago’s pawn. A truly great performance and one that does full justice to Verdi’s masterpiece. A synopsis is included, but no texts or translations.

Ewan McCormick

 




 


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.