Search - Giuseppe de Luca, Georges Bizet, Amilcare Ponchielli :: The Camden and New York Recordings

The Camden and New York Recordings
Giuseppe de Luca, Georges Bizet, Amilcare Ponchielli
The Camden and New York Recordings
Genres: Pop, Classical


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Not Only Gigli, But Also Pinza, Galli-Curci, and de Luca!
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 09/11/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

""Some of the more fastidious critics correctly cited stylistic lapses and emotional excesses ... but nobody ever made the mistake of questioning the unrivalled beauty of Gigli's voice." -- Max de Schauensee


This fifth in Naxos's series of releases that will eventually include all of Gigli's single song and aria recordings includes not only Gigli's gorgeous singing, but also duets and ensembles that include Ezio Pinza, Louise Homer, Amelita Galli-Curci, and Giuseppe de Luca, among others--a veritable feast of Golden Age voices. They were all recorded in New York in 1927-28 after the introduction of the electric recording process. And they have been lovingly and marvelously transferred by Naxos's wizard engineer, Mark Obert-Thorn, who should be given a knighthood, a MacArthur Grant or something. The sound on these recordings is simply breathtaking for its era.

Amazon has not, at the time of this review, included the contents of the CD; presumably they will eventually, along with the possibility to hear snippets of the tracks. Meanwhile, let me comment about some of the selections that made my spirit gladden. The very first thing is the inimitable duet from Bizet's 'Pêcheurs de perles,' sung in Italian as 'Del tempio al limitar' by Gigli and Pinza. The combination of their voices in close harmony simply must be heard to be appreciated. What a gorgeous blend of their two ardent voices. [Just listen to that pianissimo ascent, singing in thirds, of a major sixth that ends the duet!] Then we get two takes each of the first act duet from 'La Gioconda' with de Luca, and the entire Tomb Scene (Act III) from 'Lucia di Lammermoor' with Pinza. Gigli had earlier made the 'Gioconda' duet with Titta Ruffo; these two takes beat that hands-down, largely because of the suavity of de Luca as compared to Ruffo's bluster.

Other highlights: two high-powered versions of the Quartet from 'Rigoletto' (Galli-Curci, Homer, Gigli, de Luca). A sweet-voiced and ardent 'Di miei bollenti spiriti' ('Traviata'). Slightly less fine is the Sextet from 'Lucia', which loses dramatic effect because of Galli-Curci's somewhat acidulous soprano; the others (Gigli, de Luca, Pinza, Homer, tenor Angelo Bada) are superb. The two arias from 'Mignon' are meltingly sung.

This series has maintained a very high standard through this fifth volume. I will admit that I am very attuned to the sound of Gigli's voice and would probably like it even if I heard it over a cell phone. But here one doesn't have that problem. Again, all hail to these singers and to the magnificent transfers brought to us at a budget price by Naxos.


Heartily recommended.

Scott Morrison"