One of the most grown-up review sites around


Search MusicWeb Here

     
  
 

 

International mailing


  Founder: Len Mullenger             Senior Editor: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider
  • Brahms Symphony 4 Dvorak Symphony 9
  • Peter Aronsky (piano) Les Délices du Piano
  • IL Carnevale di Venezia Clarinet with orchestra
  • Sinfonie Concertanti


Rachmaninov - Trifonov


an inspirational performance


An indispensable acquisition


The finest we have had in years


bewitching sound


Simply amazing


A splendid addition


One of the most enjoyable


quite superb!


utterly essential


A wonderful introduction


An outstanding CD


cheer-raising


One of the finest versions


Support us financially by purchasing this from
 

Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924)
Tosca – opera in three acts (1900)
Floria Tosca: Leontyne Price (soprano)
Mario Cavaradossi: Plácido Domingo (tenor)
Il barone Scarpia: Sherrill Milnes (baritone)
Cesare Angelotti: Clifford Grant (bass)
Spoletta: Francis Egerton
Sciarrone: John Gibbs (tenor)
Un carciere: Michael Rippon (baritone)
Il sagrestano: Paul Plishka (bass)
Un pastore: David Pearl (soprano)
John Alldis Choir
New Philharmonia Orchestra/Zubin Mehta
rec. 1972, Walthamstow Town Hall, London. ADD
RCA 88697448122 [45:37 + 66:30]

This is from the same stable as the classic 1970 Il trovatore, with the same three principal singers, orchestra and conductor, and recorded in the same venue for RCA. I have known and prized that recording for nearly fifty years but for some reason never acquainted myself with this companion piece – perhaps because I was always so satisfied with what remains the prime recommendation for “Tosca” the classic Callas recording with Di Stefano and Gobbi, even though that is in mono sound.

This recording has had a number of reincarnations - the one I listened to is on the probably long-defunct Lyrica label - but I do not believe it has ever been reviewed here on MWI.

It shares many of the virtues of Mehta’s Il trovatore: the singing and playing are superb and it is in better sound; there were some peaking issues with that recording which are not apparent here, although sometimes the voices, especially Domingo’s, are close to being overpowered at climaxes. He is nearly drowned out in the first duet, on “Ah! M'avvinci nei tuoi lacci, mia sirena...” but that is probably the fault of the engineering balances. His top notes were never his strongest suit but his sustained top B on “La vita mi costasse” is terrific and otherwise he sings with ringing sincerity, even if his tenor does not have Björling’s gleam or Di Stefano’s animal passion.

Price’s soprano is a touch huskier and smokier than when she recorded her Tosca for Karajan A decade earlier but she is more animated and expressive with the text and she brings her lower register into play to great effect, as in “Presago sospetto!” However, her “Vissi d’arte” is sung in a rather generalised mezzoforte and her “Questo è il bacio di Tosca!” is a harridan shriek, lacking the right kind of power but there are still many highlights: “Io quella lama gli piantai nel cor” is thrilling.

What a pleasure it is to hear Milnes’ bronze tones again, pinning back the listener’s ears from his first entry and dominating proceedings as Scarpia should with his trumpeted tone and perfect Italian. Yes, his manner is a bit Grand Guignol and there’s little of Gobbi’s insinuating subtlety in his portrayal of Scarpia but Milnes’ portrayal is compelling in both vocal and dramatic terms. In many ways he steals the show here, for all his co-stars’ charisma.

The supporting cast is first rate, especially the two basses Clifford Grant Paul Plishka. The shepherd boy treble is perfect.

Mehta clearly has the measure of the score, giving his singers plenty of time to breathe and fill out the big phrases with warm tone. The orchestra is absolutely wonderful throughout; time and again the beauty if the orchestral accompaniment is striking.

This is not the subtlest or most nuanced of recordings of Tosca but it is not an opera that needs finessing; it needs a big verismo singer and that is what it is given here; thoroughly enjoyable.

Ralph Moore





Advertising on
Musicweb



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

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
   Vacant
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger