One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,928 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             


Some items
to consider


paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas
All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews



Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Discs for review may be sent to:
Jonathan Woolf
76 Lushes Road
Essex IG10 3QB
United Kingdom


CD: Crotchet


Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
Don Carlo (1884 - four act version in Italian) [203.04]
(Original French libretto by du Locle and Méry after Schiller’s “Don Carlos”; Italian translation by de Lauzières and Zandini)
Don Carlo - Jussi Björling (tenor)
Rodrigo - Robert Merrill (baritone)
Eboli - Fedora Barbieri (mezzo-sop.)
Filippo II - Cesare Siepi (bass)
Il Grande Inquisitore - Jerome Hines (bass)
Elisabetta di Valois - Delia Rigal (soprano)
Voce dal cielo - Lucine Amara (soprano)
Un frate – Lubomir Vichegonov
Chorus and Orchestra of the Metropolitan Opera House/Fritz Stiedry
live rec. 11 November 1950, New York, radio broadcast  (including some  commentary by Milton Cross); (bonus excerpts: 6 November 1950 telecast)
WEST HILL RADIO ARCHIVES WHRA 6021 [3 CDs: 68.02 + 66.53 + 68.49]
Experience Classicsonline


This live Metropolitan performance has been circulating in various fairly unsatisfactory guises ever since the broadcast of 11 November 1950. There is a cheap Myto edition in dim but listenable sound but this painstaking re-mastering by Ward Marston is markedly cleaner and fuller and thus very welcome. He contributes an interesting note explaining just how he contrived to produce a complete, re-engineered performance from disparate sources. However, be warned: this is the four act version and quite heavily cut, and thus valuable primarily for its historical significance as a showcase for four of the finest male voices of the time singing together in one of Verdi's most complex works.

Those voices are mostly to the fore and the unobtrusive, rhythmically steady direction of Fritz Stiedry (1887-1968) permits a direct, unfussy, performance to unfold. Veteran Met star Geraldine Farrar complained that Stiedry’s tempi were too stolid to do service to Verdi and it is true that at times they stretch the singers. However, the compensation is an added depth and poignancy that a faster, less reflective beat can occlude.

The contrast between Delia Rigal's matronly, wobbly Elisabetta - she really does sound like Carlo's mother, which is wholly inappropriate - and Björling's impassioned, finely focused Carlo makes one regret all the more that finer female voices were not cast in this important production, which both opened the season and marked the beginning of Rudolf Bing’s tenure as General Manager. If you have never before heard of Delia Rigal, her plodding, poetry-free account of "Non pianger, mia compagana" and the tepid applause it arouses will give you a clue why; I am afraid that she was not a front-rank artist. What a shame that Eleanor Steber and Blanche Thebom or Giulietta Simionato were not singing that November evening.  Fedora Barbieri was very much a star, and she manages some imposing moments, but as she lumbers through Eboli's first aria you wonder what possessed her to take on a rôle to whose technical demands she is manifestly unsuited: it requires a fleet mezzo who, as well as having a dark contralto sound (which she does) and secure top notes (which she doesn’t), can negotiate hairpin bends (just the way she can't). She partially compensates for what she lacks in technical assurance by sheer gusto and a venomous delivery of the Italian text, but she is often not very grateful on the ear. It is thus no great loss that both Rigal and Barbieri are denied the second verse of their first act arias; other cuts - see below - are more grievous.

Vocal balm and welcome relief come with the rich tones of both Robert Merrill, who once more displays his beautiful bronze timbre and perfect legato - but, unforgivably, his showpiece, "Per me giunto" is cut. Equally fine is the twenty-seven year old Cesare Siepi, who sonorously assumes the rôle of King Philip as if he had been singing it for a lifetime; it is barely inferior in pathos and vocal beauty to, for example, his 1972 live Metropolitan performance over twenty years later. As if the presence of those three were not enough, we also get to hear the rotund bass of the great Jerome Hines as Il Grande Inquisitor. Björling is in his finest voice, with clarion top-notes and great energy, such that, contrary to some performances where he merely (merely?) stands and sings, here he really inhabits the part. Apparently he was not keen on attending rehearsals, despite never having sung Don Carlo on stage in Italian before, but you would never guess it from the security and commitment of his performance. One or two doubtful moments of intonation and the odd characteristic verbal slip apart - surely forgivable in a live performance - this was clearly one of his finest evenings. Although his voice was never huge, it seems to come across the footlights without any difficulty. Finally, and in order to redress the balance regarding my observations on the comparative inadequacy of the women's voices, it is only fair to mention that Rigal comes into best voice - far too late - for the concluding duet "Ma lassù" spinning a lovely legato mezza-voce then floating a beautiful top C, and that Lucine Amara contributes an ethereal voce dal cielo. This was her début, just as it was Bing’s; she became a Met stalwart and one of his favourite and most dependable artists.

As this set stretches to three discs, it avoids the horrible fade-out and break which so disfigures the Auto-da-fé scene in the two disc Myto edition, and there is room for a supplement consisting of excerpts from the earlier telecast performance on 6 November 1950. I hardly think it was worthwhile including them given the poor sound quality but Marston suggests that this might well have been “a more inspired performance than the 11 November matinee” – if only we could hear it better.

This set is expensive compared with the Myto edition and will never be a first choice for this inexhaustibly subtle and moving opera, but you might well want it as a supplement or as a record of four great, favourite male voices. Above all, we can hear Björling in one of his greatest roles, singing as well as he is to be heard anywhere and at any time in his career.

Ralph Moore

see also review by Goran Forsling



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 Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

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

Eloquence recordings
All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month


Chopin Bruce Liu

Ingeneri Volume 2

Mondonville - Titon et L'Aurore

Telemann - French Cantatas 1


March 2022

Brahms Symphony 4
MacMillan Larghetto for Orchestra

Bruch Violin Concertos

Debussy Preludes Book 2

Jan-Peter de GRAAFF
Cello Concertos

La Nuit étoilé
Berlioz. Holmes




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.