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Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
Great Verdi Voices
Arias from Ernani, Macbeth, Il Corsaro, Rigoletto, Il Trovatore, La Traviata, Un Ballo in maschera, Don Carlo, Aida, Otello, Falstaff
Leontyne Price (soprano), Julia Varady (soprano), Anneliese Rothenberger (soprano), Arleen Auger (soprano), Sena Jurinac (soprano), Margaret Price (soprano), Neil Shicoff (tenor), JosÚ Carreras (tenor), Nicolai Gedda (tenor), Carlo Bergonzi (tenor), Franco Bonisolli (tenor), Wladimir Atlantow (tenor), Piero Cappuccilli (baritone), Renato Bruson (baritone), Giuseppe Taddei (baritone)
Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks
MŘnchner Rundfunkorchester/Carlo Franci, Heinz Wallberg, Lamberto Gardelli, Kurt Eichhorn, Hermann Hildebrandt, Arnold Quennet, Giuseppe PatanÚ, Horst Stein
rec. 1962-84, Kongresssaal das Deutschen Museums; 1979/80 Studio 1, Bayerischer Rundfunk, Munich; 1968 Gro▀es Festspielhaus, Salzburg
BR-KLASSIK 900313 [73.51]

For many years Bavarian Radio broadcast regular live ‘Sunday Concerts’ from Munich with the MŘnchner Rundfunkorchester. They featured a wealth of renowned soloists from the opera stage. Alfred Schr÷ter, head of light classics at Bavarian Radio founded these live broadcast concerts which began in 1952, the same year that the orchestra was founded.

Recordings of these concerts were held in the archive and this was opened up in 2011 with BR-Klassik releasing a series of individual albums from the singers Mirella Freni, Nicolai Ghiaurov, Margaret Price, Lucia Popp, Hermann Prey and Elisabeth GrŘmmer; also available in a 6 CD collectors box set. In 2013 a single album ‘Great Wagner Voices’, a collection of arias from 10 renowned Wagnerian soloists was issued to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Wagner’s birth. Another striking single release by the label is an excellent portrait CD of baritone Michael Volle.

Now the vast archive of Bavarian Radio has been plundered again for this new BR Klassik release ‘Great Verdi Voices’ recorded with the MŘnchner Rundfunkorchester between 1962 and 1984, a mix of studio and some live recordings.

The promotional article about the 15 soloists appearing on this album states “Their names read like a Who's Who of the most excellent Verdi interpretations”. This hits the nail on the head: a very distinguished operatic line-up.

Discerningly assembled, the collection draws on sources ranging from the rarely heard Il Corsaro to the enduring popularity of La traviata. The tracks have been arranged chronologically according to the dates of composition. Every performance is enjoyable; nonetheless, there are several arias here that I responded to especially positively.

The recitative and aria Surta Ŕ la notte ... Ernani! Ernani, involami from Ernani is sung majestically by Leontyne Price as if making the stage her own. At the peak of her powers, demonstrating her powerfully dramatic instrument, Price’s high register is a treat for both the ears and the heart.

In 2012 I heard Neil Shicoff sing mightily impressively the role Cavaradossi from Tosca at Staatsoper im Schiller Theater, Berlin. Recorded some 34 years earlier, in MercŔ, diletti amici as Ernani, the heroic and incisive Shicoff demonstrates his dramatic vigour and high emotional investment.

As Lady Macbeth the lyric dramatic soprano Julia Varady with the aria La luce langue convincingly pronounces that the fatal deed of murder will be done. Although renowned for her deep register Varady’s lovely top voice is so poised here. Her tremendously powerful delivery is spellbinding.

From La Traviata, baritone Renato Bruson makes Germont’s challenging Di Provenza il mar, where he tries to comfort his son abandoned by Violetta, appear effortless. His singing is intensely affecting and it's all done with steadfast control.

Next comes Elisabetta’s scene and aria Tu che le vanitÓ from Don Carlo. Lyric soprano Sena Jurinac's poignant longing for death and vivid tone make the listener feel as if she is living the role. Jurinac’s gleaming high register is almost beyond praise.

Across the collection the MŘnchner Rundfunkorchester appears with eight conductors of which Heinz Wallberg, Lamberto Gardelli, Kurt Eichhorn and Giuseppe PatanÚ at different periods all held the position of its chief conductor. Special praise is due to the master of Italian repertoire, the Neapolitan conductor PatanÚ. He demonstrates a real affinity for Verdi. Throughout these satisfyingly paced recordings the orchestra appear eminently focused and well prepared.

The original recording engineers at Bavarian Radio certainly knew their jobs and together with some re-mastering the realistic sound quality has all-round excellence. As is often the case with opera aria collections no texts have been provided; a pity. Providing some compensation is an interesting article - penned by Thomas Voigt - which includes information about each of the singers. Surprisingly there is no detail in the notes about which tracks are recorded live and which are produced under studio conditions.

Relishing every second of this captivating and treasurable album from some of the finest Verdian performers of their generation, my appetite has been whetted to hear even more recordings from the archive of Bavarian Radio.

Michael Cookson

Contents: Great Verdi Voices

1. Surta Ŕ la notte ... Ernani! Ernani, involami (Ernani) [5.58]
Leontyne Price (soprano) - Carlo Franci (conductor)
rec. 27 January 1968, Kongresssaal das Deutschen Museums, Munich

2. MercŔ, diletti amici (Ernani) [6.02]
Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks
Neil Shicoff (tenor) - Heinz Walberg (conductor)
rec. 12 March 1978, Kongresssaal das Deutschen Museums, Munich

3. La luce langue (Macbeth) [4.15]
Julia Varady (soprano) - Heinz Walberg (conductor)
rec. 5 November 1979, Studio 1, Bayerischer Rundfunk, Munich

4. Tutto parea sorridere (Il Corsaro) [4.28]
Jose Carreras (tenor) - Lamberto Gardelli (conductor)
rec. 6 July 1982, Kongresssaal das Deutschen Museums, Munich

5. Cortigiani, vil razza dannata (Rigoletto) [4.25]
Piero Cappuccilli (baritone) - Kurt Eichhorn (conductor)
rec. 11 January 1970, Kongresssaal das Deutschen Museums, Munich

6. La donna Ŕ mobile (Rigoletto) [2.02]
Nicolai Gedda (tenor) - Kurt Eichhorn (conductor)
rec. 10 March 1968, Kongresssaal das Deutschen Museums, Munich

7. Ah sý ben mio (Il trovatore) [3.41]
Carlo Bergonzi (tenor) - Kurt Eichhorn (conductor)
rec. 11 January 1970, Kongresssaal das Deutschen Museums, Munich

8. Di quella pira (Il trovatore) [3.42]
Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks
Franco Bonisolli (tenor) - Hermann Hildebrandt (conductor)
rec. 15 September 1973, Kongresssaal das Deutschen Museums, Munich

9. ╚ strano! Ŕ strano! ... Ah! fors Ŕ lui (La traviata) [6.37]
Anneliese Rothenberger (soprano) - Arnold Quennet (conductor)
rec. 10 November 1963, Kongresssaal das Deutschen Museums, Munich

10. Di Provenza il mar (La Traviata) [4.28]
Renato Bruson (baritone) - Giuseppe PatanÚ (conductor)
rec. 4 November 1984, Kongresssaal das Deutschen Museums, Munich

11. Saper vorreste (Un Ballo in Maschera) [1.57]
Arleen Auger (soprano) - Kurt Eichhorn (conductor)
rec. 3 July 1979, Studio 1, Bayerischer Rundfunk, Munich

12. Tu che le vanitÓ (Don Carlo) [9.59]
Sena Jurinac (soprano) - Horst Stein (conductor)
rec. 11 November 1962, Kongresssaal das Deutschen Museums, Munich

13. Ritorna vincitor! … Numi pieta (Aida) [6.57]
Margaret Price (soprano) - Heinz Walberg (conductor)
rec. 29 March 1981, Kongresssaal das Deutschen Museums, Munich

14. Niun mi tema (from Otello) [5.14]
Wladimir Atlantow (tenor) - Heinz Walberg (conductor)
rec. 12 July 1980 Studio 1, Bayerischer Rundfunk, Munich

15. Ehi! Paggio! ... L'onore! Ladri! (Falstaff) [4.06]
Giuseppe Taddei (baritone) - Kurt Eichhorn (conductor)
rec. 19 May 1968, Gro▀es Festspielhaus, Salzburg



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