MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around 2024
60,000 reviews
... and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
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

Plain text for smartphones
and printers

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos 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

All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing




Vincenzo BELLINI (1801 - 1835)
Norma (1831) [154:37]
Norma - Maria Callas (soprano)
Pollione - Mario Del Monaco (tenor)
Adalgisa - Giulietta Simionato (mezzo)
Oroveso - Nicola Zaccaria (bass)
Flavio - Giuseppe Zampieri (tenor)
Clotilde - Rina Carturan (soprano)
Chorus and Orchestra of Teatro alla Scala/Antonino Votto
rec. live, 7 December 1955, La Scala, Milan. XR Ambient Stereo
PRISTINE AUDIO PACO 083 [78:15 + 76:14]

Experience Classicsonline

Pristine Sound Engineer Andrew Rose tells us in the liner-notes that his research into which Callas Norma to re-master indicated that this live 1955 performance was the best candidate - and I agree with him. The RAI broadcast from earlier the same year is also estimable and in similar sound; it has the same two principals and the advantage of Serafin’s more flexible conducting over the rather staid Votto. It must also be said that the great Ebe Stignani was by that stage of her career rather mature for the youthful Adalgisa and Giulietta Simionata’s impassioned singing is more apt. Zaccaria is also marginally preferable over Modesti as Oroveso.
Rose tells us that his investigations revealed that the tapes of both this and that RAI performance were sharp. He has corrected this fault with the result that the voices sound fuller, richer and altogether easier on the ear. Flutter has been removed and individual sound strands emerge more cleanly and better differentiated instead of melding into the familiar orchestral mush. Following practice of previous issues, Rose has resorted to substituting the overture missing from the original recording with that from the RAI broadcast and no-one is likely to complain or hear any difference. The Pristine “Ambient Stereo” treatment also lends added presence to the rather thin, scratchy sound whose relative inadequacy is more noticeable in purely orchestral rather than vocal passages. This will never be an aural treat but the Pristine re-mastering has given us the best we are ever going to hear.
As I remarked in my previous review of the IDIS double CD featuring a compilation of ten versions of Callas singing “Casta Diva” over ten years, she was amazingly consistent during that period. This recording comes slap-bang in the middle of the decade and finds her in excellent voice, worthily partnered by the heroic Del Monaco.
As the years go by it is increasingly apparent that we shall not hear the likes of either Callas or Del Monaco again. Even if their emphatic and even stentorian delivery is sometimes rather removed from what we might expect from a quintessential bel canto opera we hear great delicacy and some lovely divisions from Callas in her big arias.
There will always be some flap and wobble even in her finest recordings but these flaws are negligible alongside her peerless ability to inflect the music with unforgettable intensity and pathos. I retain an affection for Callas’s last studio, stereo recording for EMI where not only is the whole enterprise lent glamour by the presence of Corelli and Ludwig but also we finally hear her in good sound at a point where despite the supposed decline in her voice over the previous decade she is in fact still sounding very good indeed. However, the recording under discussion remains the finest memorial to her most famous role.  

Ralph Moore




































































































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

Past 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

Error processing SSI file