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Verdi: Il Trovatore
Giuseppe Verdi, Herbert von Karajan, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Verdi: Il Trovatore
Genre: Classical
 
  •  Track Listings (16) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (16) - Disc #2


      
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CD Reviews

Golden Trovatore.
Plaza Marcelino | Caracas Venezuela | 12/22/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This performance has been in and out of the catalogues for the past 40 years, mostly from unauthorised, irregular or downright pirate sources, both in LP and CD, with sound quality levels that ranged from AM radio-type (as if taken from an air check) to fairly good. Now we have from DG the original ORF (the Austrian Broadcating Corp.) master tape and the gain in clarity and immediacy is significant, so much so as to amply justify the price differential (which is no great thing either as the set is mid-priced).

Forty years ago Karajan had established himself as Europe's "generalmusikdiktator" and assembled for this Salzburg Festival performance a starry cast quite tough to better, then as perhaps even now, effectively gathering the day's leading exponents of the roles. You would have quite hard a time then trying to find a tenor better suited than Franco Corelli to sing the part of Manrico, la Simionato would spring to anyone's mind as the logical choice for Azucena, and Bastianini sung the Count so well he could hardly be surpassed, even by Gobbi. Karajan's rapport with Leontyne Price was special, as John Culshaw wrote in his memoirs ("Putting the Record Straight", left unfinished by his untimely death but none the less published soon thereafter), and it shows throughout. Her spinto voice projects Leonore most effectively, in spite of her less-than-perfect italian diction, a head-on competitor to the then leading exponents of the part, la Callas or, specially, la Tebaldi. Culshaw also recounts Bastianini's fall from grace with Karajan whilst recording Otello in Vienna for Decca in 1962 and how he got Decca to sack him and replace him with Aldo Protti; the loss is posterity's, no doubt, but if differences between the two were already present by the time this Trovatore was staged, they don't show at all.

Karajan was a most intelligent operatic conductor, not just in the recording studio but in the theatre as well (and you'll be surprised to learn how often one does not necessarily imply the other), with a keen sense to find the tempo that was right for each particular singer and episode within a work (yet why in this particular ocasion he allowed Corelli to croon his way out of "Ah si ben mio" and at so slow a tempo is beyond comprehension), which translates into a general sense of urgency throughout this Trovatore, stressing as few other conductors the score's inner drammatic tensions. By 1962 he had behind him a solid commercial recording of "Il Trovatore", made in Milan for EMI some six years earlier with La Scala forces and an altogether different cast (Callas, Di Stefano, Panerai and Barbieri in the leading roles) that had gathered laudatory remarks from critics the world over, and later on would still return to the work more than once, for both the stereo mikes and video, for no doubt Il Trovatore was a score special to him. This 1962 Salzburg recording being live, there are of course some imprecisions here and there, vocal perspectives tend to shift when stage movement brings a particular singer to face away from the microphone, there are stage noises, applause and slight miscues between orchestra players and singers which no doubt Karajan would have corrected had this been a regular, commercial studio project (but again, very likely at the price of spontaneity and frisson). But this is a Trovatore to treasure, a performance that amply demonstrates the success of a project in which an inspired conductor and a group accomplished and well cast singers can achieve. No matter how many Trovatore's you may own, add this one to your collection, you will not be disappointed."
Stunning
Plaza Marcelino | 06/08/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This Trovatore is the same as the one by Gala on Amazon that attracted a lot of reviewers. I reproduce my review here. I actually have this version, not the Gala version. I can't say anything about the sound quality in the Gala version. But the sound quality on this recording is very good. Although it is mono, the transfer is done superbly so that everything is very clear. A good 'benchmark' would be the EMI Great Recording of the Century Beethoven 9th by Furtwangler. The sound quality is about that level.Many reviewers have praised this recording. I join their praise. This recording is an undisputed classic like the Klemperer Fidelio with EMI featuring Christa Ludwig and Jon Vickers. Have you ever asked yourself what is the hallmark of a great recording? Well, there are many ways to characterize a great recording. But here's an extremely good acid test. When you have a whole bunch of operas in excellent stereo sound (some of them excellent digital stereo sound) and some of them studio recorded to perfection (not a flaw in the note or intonation) but YET you prefer to listen to a MONO ANALOGUE such as this Il Trovatore. Now THAT'S what I call the HALLMARK OF A GREAT RECORDING. This is precisely my experience with this Il Trovatore. I actually bought this Il Trovatore by 'mistake'. I've heard about Karajan's famous 1962 Salzburg recording. So when I found it, I decided to buy it. The reason I say it was a mistake because I thought that this was in stereo (afterall it's a 1962 recording and most recordings then were made with stereophonic technique). So when I realized that it was a MONO recording, I was intially disgusted because I dislike mono recording in general. But I decided to listen and I blown away by the power of the performance. Yes, this performance is white hot with intensity of epic nuclear proportions. This performance is in that class of superb opera recordings. It is a superbly inspired interpretation and the singers sing with tremendous intensity as if their lives depended on it. I actually prefer this MONO opera recording to many of my stereo opera recordings!!!Just a little history, in the immediate post world war era, I would say around 1950 - 1970, the world's greatest opera singers used to be concentrated in the opera houses of Europe. That was before the era of today's jet-setting opera singers. In those days, opera singers labored for weeks and weeks in rehearsals before the performances. And they worked together in ONE place as a team. Today, opera singers get 'star' treatment. but sad to say, opera singers today are not so commited to their craft. Yes, they are good, I don't deny that. But compared to the opera singers of yore, they are below par. In this set, Corelli sings with searing intensity. His voice comes out like an atomic bomb. Pavarotti and Domingo don't even come near. Yes, Pavarotti and Domingo are excellent singers, I don't deny that. I am a great fan of Pavarotti and Domingo and I have their recordings. What I am just saying is that Corelli in this recording wins them hands down. Leontyne Price is in peak form. I always thought that Price was fantastic. But never did I expect to be blown away by her singing here. Her singing here is far far better than any of the studio recordings I've heard from her. White hot inspiration, blazing heat. You have to listen to believe it. When you hear her down here, you'll realize that you've never known the real Leontyne Price. The same goes with Simionato and Bastianini. They are superbly inspired.Here are 4 of the greatest singers in the world giving the performance of a lifetime. And to the person who thought of releasing these performances from the archives to the public, I couldn't thank them enough. You will not regret this purchase, at a great bargain price too. The greatest regret (or should I say that competitors should be thankful) is that Austrian Radio did not record this in Stereo, for if they did, all the other Trovatores will probably go out of business. Yes, all you competitors out there. As things stand, this is already one of the best-selling Trovatores on Amazon.com.Be glad that this wasn't recorded in Stereo. Otherwise, you would have to close shop."
Electrifying!
Plaza Marcelino | 12/05/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I echo all the positive statements made in the other reviews. What I really like about this recording is the live aspect. We have had recordings by all these artist for decades (as all of them are now retired). The studio recordings each made were fabulous, but nothing really exeptional when it comes to really exciting the soul. What then is the difference here? It is the sound, the singing, the emotions, and the intensity of the live performance. I venture to say that none of these singers were well served in the studio. Yes, they made super wonderful recordings, and we are thrilled they did, but that special something that each of them had in live performance just didn't come across. Corelli, whose musicianship is usually sloppy is so electrifying here. His clarion tones, and they do ring out and give goose bumps, just make the role. Price is so riviting, and has an energy one doesn't find in her studio recordings. I doubt it was because she sang in an uninvolved way in them, but rather her voice was probably too powerful for the recording equipment. By the way, this is not the only "live version" of this opera with her in it. There is another released by Allegro recordings. This one is by far superior in sound quality to that one, but both have some super fine singing from her and the other singers. Simionato is well, perfect as Azucena. I really doubt she had any serious competition while she was singing. She has a way of electrifying everything she sings, and she has good musicality and technique. The high C in the Duet between her and Manrico is not there, as was the custom of the time, but it was not because it was beyond her ability or range. I always found her studio recordings sort of a mystery. I enjoyed the voice but couldn't really see much special about it. The thing that capture everyone just wasn't there, though her interpretations did rivit you as far as characterizations were concerned. With this live recording it is easy to see what was there and what captured the hearts of all those who saw her. These were singers who really put out. Their tone was full, strong, powerful, riviting, focused, and cutting (not in a shrill way, but in a way that gives complete presence to the voice). Their intensity in performance is a miracle. It is amazing that any of them sang that long, or so it seems, with what they gave of their talents (now mind you, there is no forcing, shoving, pushing, or etc of the voice; instead the voice is used wisely and properly; maybe that is why they could give out so much, they knew how to do it right). Each of them had a very long career. The standard of performance is also unbelievable. There may be flaws, there always is in any live performance, but those flaws pale compared to the whole, and the whole really takes your breath away."