One of the most grown-up review sites around
One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here


International mailing

Up to 40% off

  Founder: Len Mullenger

Some items
to consider

in the first division

extraordinary by any standards

An excellent disc

a new benchmark

summation of a lifetime’s experience.

Piano Concertos 1 and 2
Surprise Best Seller and now

A Garland for John McCabe


DIETHELM Symphonies

The best Rite of Spring in Years

BACH Magnificat

Brian Symphs 8, 21, 26

Just enjoy it!

La Mer Ticciati








Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

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
Senior Editor
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


CD: Pristine Classical

Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924)
Tosca - Opera in three Acts [107:58]
Tosca - Maria Callas (soprano); Cavaradossi - Giuseppe Di Stefano (tenor); Scarpia - Tito Gobbi (baritone); Angelotti - Franco Calabrese (baritone); Spoletta - Angelo Mercuriali (tenor); Sacristan - Melchiorre Luise (bass); Sciarrone/Gaoler - Dario Caselli (baritone); Shepherd boy - Angelo Mercuriali (treble)
Chorus and Orchestra of La Scala, Milan/Victor de Sabata
rec. Teatro alla Scala, Milan, 10-21 August 1953
no text or translation included
PRISTINE AUDIO PACO 080 [72:03 + 35:54]

Experience Classicsonline

Although the words “historic” and “classic” are all too often used to describe any recording more than a few years old which might still be worth hearing they apply with all their original force to this set. Everything came together in the studio to produce a version which grips the listener from start to finish, with no hint of routine, every phrase characterised to perfection, and real theatrical tension. This is due above all to the conductor, Victor de Sabata, who ensures urgency, clarity and apparent spontaneity throughout. Callas and Gobbi are heard at the peak of their form, and comparison with their stereo version in 1964 shows a sad coarsening in both of their performances allied with routine conducting from Georges Prêtre. Even Giuseppe Di Stefano, a very variable artist, is heard at something like his best in the 1953 version; he was replaced by Carlo Bergonzi in the later version.
Understandably this 1953 version has been frequently reissued, and not only EMI but also Naxos, Regis, Brilliant, and probably many others, have it in their catalogues. Andrew Rose, who re-mastered the present version, explains that he felt that a new transfer could only be justified if it brought something really special and new to distinguish it from earlier versions. I have not been able to compare it directly with those others but I accept that what is heard here is much more clear and comfortable to listen to as well as more convincing than those I have heard previously. The sound of the voices has astonishing realism, although their closeness can be a little wearing at times, and re-hearing does increase my incomprehension at the ineffectual realisation of the “effects” built into the score in respect of the cannon shot in the first Act, the closing of the window in the second, and the rifle volley in the third. These are part of the score, not extraneous to it, but were treated almost apologetically by Walter Legge, the producer of the set.
That is however a common problem with all reissues of this reading. One version or another should be in the collection of any Puccini enthusiast, and I can only say that I have had considerable pleasure from this re-mastering. Memories can be unreliable but this is certainly much superior in my memory to the original discs. There are however two irritations which may make you prefer one of the other reissues. The first - the lack of a libretto or translation - is of minor importance when they are easily available either online or elsewhere. The second is more serious. When the whole opera lasts less than two hours, it seems unfortunate as well as unnecessary to divide Act Two between the two discs. Other versions on CD have Acts Two and Three on the second disc. The change here comes immediately after Vissi d’arte. Admittedly, in the theatre, all too often the tension is dissipated with applause but a gap here is something I can do without when listening at home. Whether this is likely to bother you I cannot say. Certainly if it does not this must be accounted a very fine transfer of a performance which can properly be described as historic and a classic.
John Sheppard





























































































































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

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.