One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,416 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             


Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
Otello - opera in four acts (1887) [134:39]
Otello - Ramón Vinay (tenor); Iago – Giuseppe Taddei (baritone); Desdemona – Antonietta Stella (soprano); Lodovico - Giuseppe Modesti (bass); Cassio – I Pasini (tenor); Emilia – Z Negroni (mezzo); Montano – G Moschetti (bass); Rodrigo – V di Toto (tenor)
Orchestra and Chorus of the Teatro Colón de Buenos Aires/Sir Thomas Beecham
rec. live, Buenos Aires, 4 July 1958. ADD
IDIS 6547/48 [65:15 + 69:24] 
Experience Classicsonline

Collectors of historical live operatic recordings are used to putting up with all kinds of obstacles between them and enjoyment of the performance. Muffled recording, strange balance, noises from audience, prompter or stage movement, and cuts, whether made at the actual performance or imposed by missing sections of the recording – all of these are the norm but it can sometimes still be worth persevering with listening in the hope that they will also be able to detect the faint echo of what occurred on some uniquely and musically important occasion.

Many of those obstacles are present here. In particular the recording is frequently very distorted and the balance very much favours the orchestra, and sometimes the audience, over the singers. Nonetheless what remains shows that this was a performance of rare excitement and insight. Ramón Vinay’s Otello is well known, mainly from Toscanini’s recording – earlier but much better recorded. Here he has many of the same virtues – inherent nobility, a large voice able to express great power and strong emotions and suggesting a man distinct from the rest of the characters, and great musicality and dramatic ability. He seems perhaps not as careful here as he was in the Toscanini version, although this may be due in part to the deficiencies of the recording. Giuseppe Taddei is a well sung and very vivid Iago. His clarity and forward projection of words ensure that every syllable is clear, and thankfully he avoids melodramatic effects. Antonietta Stella is a very positive Desdemona, avoiding the risks of sounding either pallid or matronly. All in all, I very much enjoyed what I could hear of the main singers, although I must stress that to some extent this reaction is based on imagination as the actual sounds are frequently far from realistic or attractive. 

The main virtue of the set, however, is the conducting of Sir Thomas Beecham. The notes by Danilo Prefumo suggest that he had “learnt Toscanini’s lesson (apart from a few, unaccountably slow tempos)”. I would doubt whether by this time in his life the way that Beecham approached the opera was likely to have been influenced one way or the other by what other conductors had done or were doing. Beecham’s experience in opera had gone back some half century before this, and he knew very well how to establish dramatic situations and how to get the best out of whatever performers he was working with. In fact the orchestra and chorus here are far from bad, and I think that Prefumo is ungenerous in saying that they are not always up to their task. Certainly the off-stage brass do appear to have some occasional difficulties and there are some other inaccuracies or lack of coordination, but no more than can be expected in any live performance of this work, especially one of such intensity. I am not clear which are the “unaccountably slow tempos”. Some parts are certainly slower than the score might suggest, but rarely to any exceptional degree compared with other performances. All in all, there is much to be enjoyed in and learnt from Beecham’s performance here, even if the enjoyment is somewhat limited by the limits of the recorded sound. 

It is here that the problems start and end. Obviously this is not comparable with modern recordings and purchasers are likely to buy this as a supplement to other versions, or perhaps even as a supplement to supplements. On that basis it is certainly worth having. The performance has been issued by other companies, but I have not been able to compare this version with them so that I do not know to what extent what appears to be a somewhat crude refurbishment is the best that can be done with the source material. 

No text or translations are included and the brief notes relate entirely to the performers, but this is unlikely to deter the likely target audience. Caveat emptor maybe, but also carpe diem.

John Sheppard



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All APR reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount




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


      Composer surveys
      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

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


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

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



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

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
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
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
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.