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The Creators of Verismo – Volume 1: Bellincioni, Pandolfini, and the Siberia creator-recordings
Languages: All selections sung in Italian
Full tracklist at end of review
Limited edition of 1000 copies
MARSTON 52062-2 [70:50 + 79:37]

Experience Classicsonline

 
Once again Marston has compiled a two disc set of great imagination and rarity value, reaching back well over a century for recordings of considerable historic importance. We have, then, the voices of ‘six verismo sopranos’ and they represent, according to the booklet rubric, ‘six studies in passion, technique and style’. Certainly one can argue the pros and cons of individual singers and performances but to have such recordings made available in this way and in such splendid sound, is something that no lover of the vocal art should easily spurn.
 
Not the least reason for excitement is that many of the performances are ‘Creator’ recordings — sung by the very artist who gave first performances of the work in question. Such a cachet offers a palpable frisson, not least when the composer himself is either present or known to have coached the singer. Prestigious collectors and a particularly prestigious collection, held at Yale, have surrendered their copies for transfer.
 
The set begins with Gemma Bellincioni (1864-1950), who was both long-lived and an important international artist. Her 1903 Milan G&Ts are fascinatingly uneven examples of her art. She has what will be for many a bleaty vibrato, and for those who find Supervia unacceptable on this account — and there are some — Bellincioni will provide similar analogous problems. In her Boito some of her runs are a touch speculative and there is a hint of wear in the voice, though she was still only 39. Her tempi are certainly free, indeed erratic. Her Mascagni represents a Creator role and is a most important document, though her Traviata aria is musically undisciplined, though of some interest because both Verdi and Boito heard her sing. She re-recorded Ah, fors’è lui in Paris two years later on the less immediate Pathé sides. Vissi d’arte preserves the intense flutter of her vibrato, whilst her Bohème extract remains a touch superficial. Nevertheless we have her complete recordings here, an invaluable fourteen sides that preserve a most important singer’s oeuvre.
 
We also have the complete recordings of Angelica Pandolfini, a precious five in all, recorded once again in Milan in 1903. As with the Bellincioni recordings in the city, the pianist was Salvatore Cottone. These sides are all exceptionally rare, having been withdrawn soon after publication. She didn’t much like them herself. Her Boito Mefistofele is, for me, superior both vocally and musically to Bellincioni’s recording of it. The runs are more accurate, the vibrato is under better control, she is florid when called for, and eminently characterful. It’s rare, in this context, to hear Mozart but she essays Deh vieni creditably and also displays the lighter side of her art with a lovely rendition of Godard’s Chanson de florian. Amelia Pinto is represented by ten sides; G&Ts from Milan in April 1902 and a selection of Fonotipias from 1908-14. The 1902 session is heard in its entirety and includes an interesting rarity in Bottesini’s Romanza di Ero. Both published takes of Vissi d’arte are quite slow but very convincing. She was born in 1876, remained in pretty good voice to the end of her recording career and impresses every time one hears her, whether in Tosca or the Sicilian songs she sang in May 1914.
 
The fourth soprano is Cesira Ferrani (1863-1943) whose six selected recordings come from December 1902. The composers represented are Puccini — Manon, Bohème — Boito, once again Mefistofele (most movingly done here), and Gounod. She sang in the first performance of Manon Lescaut in 1893 which makes these two extracts of great significance. Her portamenti are fluid and fortunately her unnamed accompanist’s piano has been well recorded which means the performances are very listenable in these fine transfers. There is also the Gounod, a duet with the negligible tenor Giovanni Apostolu. Emma Carelli is the next soprano, born in Naples in 1877. These are, again, very rare 1903 sides, and were not available for long. The singing is powerful and committed albeit not without technical fault. In some sides she is joined by partners; Mario Sammarco in Mascheroni’s Lorenza and in Vissi d’arte (notable for Sammarco’s vivid laughter and her own highly theatrical performance), and Elvino Ventura for the Fedora extract. The remaining tracks are devoted to Giordano’s Siberia, recorded in Milan in 1904 with its all-star cast including De Luca, Rosina Storchio, Antonio Pini-Corsi and Giovanni Zenatello amongst others. There are nine sides, all with the original cast members preserving, however imperfectly, their contributions. The results are suggestive and fascinating, and transferred with great skill.
 
As ever the booklet presents full biographies, excellently reproduced photographs and a first class essay by Michael Aspinall. The claims of verismo are superbly documented in this engrossing set.
 
Jonathan Woolf
 

 
Full Tracklist
CD1 [70:50]
GEMMA BELLINCIONI COMPLETE RECORDINGS
Gramophone and Typewriter Limited,
Milan, 1903
with Salvatore Cottone, piano
FEDORA: O grandi occhi lucenti di fede (Giordano)
2:46
(Con570R) G&T 053014
MEFISTOFELE: L’altra notte (Boito)
3:39
(Con572R) G&T 053017
CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA: Voi lo sapete (Mascagni)
3:18
(Con574R) G&T 053018
LA TRAVIATA: Ah, fors’è lui (Verdi)
3:05
(Con577R) G&T 053019 (transposed a semitone down to E)
Pathé
Paris, 1905
with piano accompaniment
MEFISTOFELE: L’altra notte (Boito)
3:13
(4391) 4391
MIGNON: Non conosci il bel suol (Connais-tu le pays) (Thomas)
2:52
(4394) 4394
CARMEN: É l’amor uno strano augello (L’amour est un oiseau rebelle) [Habanera] (Bizet)
2:43
(4392) 4392
CARMEN: Invan per evitar (En vain pour éviter) [Card song] (Bizet)
2:39
(4395) 4395
LA TRAVIATA: Ah, fors’è lui (Verdi)
3:08
(4396) 4396 (transposed a semitone down to E)
OTELLO: Ave Maria (Verdi)
2:52
(4397) 4397
LA BOHÈME: Mi chiamano Mimi (Puccini)
2:42
(4398) 4398
FAUST: C’ era un re di Thule (Il était un roi de Thulé) (Gounod)
3:00
(4399) 4399
TOSCA: Vissi d’arte (Puccini)
2:38
(4390) 4390
CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA: Voi lo sapete (Mascagni)
2:38
(4393) 4393
ANGELICA PANDOLFINI COMPLETE RECORDINGS
Gramophone and Typewriter Limited, Milan, 1903, with Salvatore Cottone, piano
ADRIANA LECOUVREUR: Io son l’umile ancella (Cilea)
2:51
(Con371) 53340
MEFISTOFELE: L’altra notte (Boito)
3:56
(Con735) 053044
LE NOZZE DI FIGARO: Deh vieni, non tardar (Mozart)
3:18
(Con718) 053037
Chanson de florian (Godard)
2:31
(Con364) 53333
All’ombra di quel faggio (Taubert)
2:58
(Con719) 053038
AMELIA PINTO
Gramophone and Typewriter Limited, Milan, 11 April 1902, with piano accompaniment
GERMANIA: All’ardente desio (Franchetti)
3:29
(1775b) 53239
CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA: Voi lo sapete (Mascagni)
2:58
(1776b) 53233
ERO E LEANDRO: Romanza di Ero (Bottesini)
2:55
(1777b) 53238
TOSCA: Vissi d’arte (Puccini)
3:05
(1780b) 53234
TOSCA: Vissi d’arte (Puccini)
2:56
(1782b) 53232
LA GIOCONDA: Suicidio! (Ponchielli)
3:15
(1781b) 53240
Fonotipia Milan, 1908-1914, with orchestral accompaniment
MARCELLA: Son tre mesi (Giordano)
2:25
3 November 1908; (XPh 3531) unpublished on 78 rpm
CD 2 [79:37]
AMELIA PINTO
Fonotipia (continued)
SIBERIA: Non odi là il martir (Giordano)
2:48
3 November 1908; (XPh 3570) 92401
A la barcillunìsa (Modo di Barcellona, Provincia di Messina) (Sicilian song, arranged by Favara)
2:50
1 May 1914; (XPh 5073) 69191
’Razioni di San Stansillàu (Leggenda di San Stanislao, Palermo) (Sicilian song, arranged by Favara)
3:06
1 May 1914; (XPh 5074) 69192
CESIRA FERRANI
Gramophone and Typewriter Limited, Milan, December 1902, with piano accompaniment
MANON LESCAUT: In quelle trine morbide (Puccini)
2:05
(2916b) 53283
MANON LESCAUT: L’ora o Tirsi (Puccini)
1:32
(5510a) 53147
LA BOHÈME: Mi chiamano Mimi (Puccini)
2:40
(2914b) 53281
LA BOHÈME: Addio senza rancor (Puccini)
2:31
(2915b) 53282
MEFISTOFELE: L’altra notte (Boito)
2:14
(2927b) 53285
FAUST: Tardi si fa (Il se fait tard) (Gounod)
2:41
Giovanni Apostolu, tenor
(2931b) 54035
EMMA CARELLI
Gramophone and Typewriter Limited
Milan, 1903
with Salvatore Cottone, piano
SELECTED RECORDINGS
10.
CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA: Voi lo sapete (Mascagni)
3:30
(Con648) 053028
IRIS: Un dì era piccina (Mascagni)
3:20
(Con653) 053033
LORENZA: Vana bellezza mia (Mascheroni)
3:37
(Con647) 053026
LORENZA: Io son bella, tutta bianca (Mascheroni)
4:02
Mario Sammarco, baritone
(Con644) 054026
TOSCA: Vissi d’arte (Puccini)
3:02
(Con272R) 53341
TOSCA: Quanto? Il prezzo? (Puccini)
4:04
Mario Sammarco, baritone
(Con703c) 054028
FEDORA: Tutto tramonta [Morte di Fedora] (Giordano)
3:40
Elvino Ventura, tenor
(Con651) 054034
ANDREA CHÉNIER: La mamma morta (Giordano)
4:06
(Con654) 053034
MANON: Ebben, lo degg’io! ... Addio, o nostro picciol desco [Allons, Il le faut! … Adieu, notre petite tabl (Massenet)
4:15
(Con652) 053032
SIBERIA (Umberto Giordano) - ORIGINAL CAST RECORDINGS
Gramophone and Typewriter Limited
Milan, 1904
with Raffaele Delli Ponti, piano
O bella mia [Mattinata]
2:27
Giuseppe De Luca, Gaetano Pini-Corsi, Oreste Gennari, and Vittorio Pozzi-Camola
(Con74) 054039
No, se un pensier tortura … Nel suo amore rianimata
3:20
Rosina Storchio
(Con388) 53331
Quest’orgoglio
2:53
Storchio and De Luca
(Con394) 54048
T’incontrai per via!
1:36
Giovanni Zenatello
(Con396) 52775
Cani ed avari
2:10
Antonio Pini-Corsi
(Con392) 52774
Orride steppe!
3:02
Zenatello
(Con389) 52764
E’ qui con te il mio destin
3:01
Storchio and Zenatello
(Con750) 054027
Non odi là il martir
2:41
Storchio
(Con390) 53332
27.
La conobbi quand’era fanciulla
2:24
De Luca
(Con391) 52773

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 


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