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Leoncavallo: Pagliacci
Ruggero Leoncavallo, Renato Cellini, RCA Victor Orchestra
Leoncavallo: Pagliacci
Genre: Classical
  •  Track Listings (24) - Disc #1


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CD Details

All Artists: Ruggero Leoncavallo, Renato Cellini, RCA Victor Orchestra, Jussi Björling, George Cehanovsky, Paul Franke, Victoria De Los Angeles, Robert Merrill, Leonard Warren, Richard Wright
Title: Leoncavallo: Pagliacci
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 0
Label: EMI Classics
Original Release Date: 1/1/2000
Re-Release Date: 12/2/2003
Album Type: Original recording remastered
Genre: Classical
Styles: Opera & Classical Vocal, Historical Periods, Modern, 20th, & 21st Century
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 724358565027

CD Reviews

Great singing, lousy sound
Kevin Orth | 12/19/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)

"I have to agree with both of the other reviewers, which is unusual since one gives this disc five stars and the other only one star! On the positive side the singing is wonderful--Bjorling, Victoria de los Angeles and Warren and Merrill were simply fabulous singers and that comes across even through the dreadful sound. And yes, there are moments where the shrill and distorted sound of the remastering just makes you grit your teeth. It really stinks, and I have a pretty forgiving ear for historical recordings!"
Excellent performance. Dreadful remastering
L. E. Cantrell | Vancouver, British Columbia Canada | 07/30/2005
(1 out of 5 stars)

"As is usually the case, I find myself in general agreement with Madamemusico. I am a little more favorably impressed with this recording's Robert Merrill and the Robert Shaw Chorale than she is--a relatively small variance.

Nevertheless, I give this set a miserly one star to her five. The reason is quite simple: this is, in my opinion, a botched remastering and, alas, one all-too characteristic of today's EMI. Perhaps the company's recording engineers are deaf, indifferent, incompetent, morbidly fond of consonants, or some weird combination of these things. The result is a marked deterioration in sound quality in this "Pagliacci" from the old Lp issues.

Poor Bjorling is the worst victim. On my first (and only!) playing of this set, I was brought up short again and again by ghastly wheezes or exaggerated consonants or apparent clicks of teeth. I was repeatedly forced to declare to myself that Jussi just did not sound like that. So much of my attention was forced, willy-nilly, upon mere sounds that, for all intents and purposes, the performance was lost.

The upshot was that I finally admitted to myself that I had purchased a lemon. I have ejected this wretched thing from my collection, casting it out into uttermost darkness. I replaced it with the excellent Naxos remastering (based on old Lp versions), available here in Canada, at least. That version is fully worthy of Madamemusico's five stars."
As good as it gets....for "Pagliacci"
madamemusico | Cincinnati, Ohio USA | 07/19/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Back in the early 1950s, as part of their "speed war" with Columbia records, RCA issued a number of complete opera sets on 45-rpm discs. The procedure was clumsy and inefficient; by 1954 the company abandoned the practice and capitulated to issuing complete operas on LP only. (The only exception to this rule was the 1952 recording of "Tristan und Isolde" conducted by Furtwangler, which was issued only on LPs.) Columbia, who featured such singers as Eleanor Steber, Dorothy Kirsten, Richard Tucker and Eugene Conley, did not sell as well as RCA despite their lead in issuing operas on LP only, and not on 45.The reason for RCA's superiority was Jussi Bjorling, the great Swedish lyric tenor. In person, his was a beautiful but smallish presence, elegant in its phrasing and phenomenal breath control if a little lacking in passion. But on records, Bjorling sounded phenomenal; and, when he acted with the voice as well as singing (which was rare), he made a tremendous impact.This recording is one of four in which Bjorling gave his very best; the other three were "Il Trovatore," "Aida" and the 1957 stereo remake of "Cavalleria Rusticana." As with Rhadames in "Aida," this was a role he did not often sing on stage, which may explain his involvement: the more Bjorling sang a role, the less interesting he often was (though, of course, he always sang beautifully). His soprano partner here was Victoria de los Angeles, who likewise sounded more involved than usual; the Tonio was the great Leonard Warren, one of the finest singing-actors of his time; and the conductor was Renato Cellini, a vastly underrated house conductor who was actually much better than the regular Met house conductor, Fausto Cleva.The result is a "Pagliacci" which is suavely, even elegantly, sung, yet losing only a little in full-blooded passion. The only real disappointments are Robert Merrill's rather tepid and uninteresting Silvio, and the overly-polite, church-choir sound of the Robert Shaw Chorale. Otherwise, this is a "Pagliacci" that satisfies. Leonard Warren's burly, brassy yet scrupulously musical voice sounds wonderful as Tonio; Bjorling is brilliant and appropriately angry and dolorous as Canio; de los Angeles is a kittenish Nedda; and Renata Cellini conducts a taut yet warm and expansive performance. The only disappointments are Robert Merrill's rather tepid Silvio and the overly polite, churchy singing of the Robert Shaw Chorale. Well worth the modest other "Pagliacci" recording is as satisfying as this one!"