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







Plain text for smartphones
and printers

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



Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1848)
Lucia di Lammermoor
Dramma tragico in tre atti [109:41]
Richard WAGNER
Tristan und Isolde
- Mild und leise (in Italian) [7:26]
Vincenzo BELLINI
Norma -
Casta Diva [6:42] Ah! Bello a me ritorna [2:12] I Puritani - O rendetimi la speme [1:03] Qui la voce [3:38] Vien diletto [2:19]
Donizetti: Lucia - Maria Callas (soprano); Edgardo - Giuseppe Di Stefano (tenor); Enrico - Tito Gobbi (baritone); Raimondo - Raffaele Arié (bass); Arturo - Valiano Natali (tenor); Alisa - Anna Maria Canali (mezzo); Normanno - Gino Sarri (tenor)
Chorus and Orchestra of the Florence Maggio Musicale/Tullio Serafin
rec. January and February 1953 in Florence
Wagner and Bellini: Maria Callas
Orchestra Sinfonica di Torino della RAI/Arturo Basile
rec. November 1949
no texts or translations included
PRISTINE AUDIO PACO 084 [68:43 + 64:14]

Experience Classicsonline

It would be all too easy, especially at a time when recordings of Donizetti operas seem to be issued at an ever-increasing rate, often performed in editions much closer to the composer’s text than we have on these discs, to regard Callas’s first studio recording of Lucia di Lammermoor as essentially more of historical than musical interest. After all, she made a later studio recording (1959) and there are many live recordings of her in the role, including a much-praised version under Karajan in Berlin from 1955. Despite all of this to me this is the performance that shows that Donizetti was a great dramatic composer but whose music requires a particularly imaginative and sympathetic approach from the performers for this to be apparent.
I have known this recording for many years but have not listened to it for some time. Largely that was because of my memory of a particularly unatmospheric recording quality which reduced the impact of what was obviously an immensely exciting performance. Pristine have once again performed technical wonders which I do not begin to understand but which have turned this ugly duckling into the most radiant of swans. What was always worth hearing despite some discomfort is now simply a joy to hear from beginning to end, encouraging the listener to forget any concerns over recording balance or the brutal and wholly unnecessary cuts and simply to enjoy what still seems an almost perfect cast. The three main characters all sing with total dramatic and musical conviction. Understandably the packaging is dominated by the name of Callas but in reality the contributions of Gobbi and Di Stefano are of equal importance, all singing with real urgency and imagination. The other roles are perhaps more routine, even Raffaele Arié as Raimondo but Serafin’s wonderfully flexible and understanding conducting disguises any small weaknesses in the cast. Although Karajan’s Berlin performance is often praised I find it at times exaggerated in comparison with Serafin’s equally positive but more idiomatic and less self-conscious approach.
One result of the disgraceful cuts in Lucia is that the set is able also to include Callas’s first commercial recordings. Here too Pristine manage to make them much less uncomfortable for the listener although I have not changed my view that these are essentially of interest in showing how far Callas managed to travel later as an artist than for their own intrinsic merits.
As usual with Pristine Audio there are no texts or translations, but these are easily obtainable elsewhere and it would be a pity if this put anyone off buying it. For admirers of Callas or Donizetti this set has always been an essential part of their collections, and in this newly minted form that is more than ever the case.  

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.