This is one of Birgit Nilsson's best ever recording
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the Birgit Nilsson equivalent of Joan Sutherland's "The Art of Prima Donna". It is one of Birgit Nilsson's best recording ever!! Here are the reasons I say that this is one of Birgit Nilsson's best ever:1. This recording was produced by Walter Legge. This one sentence is enough reason. Walter Legge was legendary as a perfectionist. He spent hours trying to get his singers to sing characterfully. Karajan, who worked with Legge used to get fed up with Legge's perfectionistic ways. Legge's influence is apparent here. Many people have criticized Birgit Nilsson for her shortcomings in characterization. Well, this recording shows otherwise. Here, Birgit Nilsson is in freshest voice and (apparently prodded on by Walter Legge), her singing here is more characterful than usual. As an example, this is her best "Abscheulischer!" aria (Fidelio) on record. There are a few recordings of this aria - 2 with Decca, 1 with Gala (Bernstein) and 1 with Koch Schwann (Erich Kleiber). But this is the best!! In some of her recordings with Decca, she is a bit careless in the singing. But here everything is sung with extreme care. Birgit Nilsson is truly one of the greatest Leonores. By the way, this is also her first recording. 2. Decca likes to balance their singers backwards, thus in the Decca sets, her voice loses a bit of impact. In these recordings, Nilsson is balanced forward so that the full impact and glory of her voice is more truthfully captured. It also makes the recording more thrilling.3. This is the young Birgit Nilsson. She is eager to do her best. Her voice is at its freshest. All notes are attacked with breathtaking cleanness - every note is hit right-on, dead center - no under-the-note attack.4. The stereo sound is superb. With all the technological improvements, the sound here still beats recent digital recordings hands down. It goes to show that it is not enough that technology improves. The most important thing is that people must UNDERSTAND how to do recordings. And Walter Legge was legendary in this respect - witness his Fidelio, Zauberflote, Don Giovanni, Cosi Fan Tutte, Le Nozze di Figaro.By the way, these comments also apply to the duet recording with Hans Hotter, also under Testament Number 1201. And if you like these recordings, you must get Nilsson's Elektra with Solti (Decca), her Die Frau Ohne Schatten with Bohm (DG), her Salome with Solti (Decca), her Isolde with Bohm (DG), her Brunnhilde with both Solti (Decca) and Bohm (Philips), her Venus and Elisabeth with Gerdes (DG)."
Birgit Nilsson is simply astounding!!!
V. Chau | San Diego, CA | 05/25/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Birgit Nilsson shines in this recital disc. Her huge, distinctive voice is well-suited for the German arias on this disc. She has a spectacular upper register. Her high notes are always rock-solid and powerful. I didn't care much for her rendition of the "Don Giovanni" aria. "Abscheulicher, wo eilst du hin?" is given a marvelous interpretation. Nilsson handles the coloratura runs quite well. "Ah, perfido Op. 65" is a boring, never-ending concert aria that should have been left out. I realize it is Beethoven, but it is not very good. The Oberon aria benefits mightily from Nilsson's mighty voice. The "Der Freischütz" aria is wonderful and Nilsson performs it beautifully. A rock-solid high note near the end is definitely worth waiting for. The Liebestod from "Tristan und Isolde" is given a good account, but Nilsson's version on her live recording from Bayreuth beats it. Heinz Wallberg does a nice job of conducting all the German arias except the one from "Tristan und Isolde", which is conducted by Leopold Ludwig. I felt Ludwig's tempos to be too slow in that aria. Ludwig's tempos for the Verdi arias also tend to be too slow, especially in "Pace, pace, mio Dio". Nilsson does not sound entirely idiomatic in the Verdi selections, but she sings the living daylights out of them. Nilsson makes a very powerful Aïda. She is not able to softly float the word "mio" in the phrase "del padre mio" as well as other sopranos can, but this is a minor complaint. The high note on "Ah!" before the word "Sventurata!" is gigantic! It always makes me laugh when I hear the way she phrases "Che dissi?" after the word "Sventurata!". The "Forza" aria is nicely done. Notice how the high note on the word "pace" changes from beginning to end. Nilsson starts it out softly, but her huge voice causes the tone to swell out. Amazing! I wish Nilsson had held the high note on the last "Maledizione" longer. It seems that, if she had, she would have drowned out the entire orchestra. "Ecco l'orrido campo" is given a competent reading, but Amelia was never one of Nilsson's strongest roles. The last aria is a superb "O patria mia". Nilsson is at her most tender in this aria. Her soft singing is wonderful to hear. The dolce high C is managed admirably. The most impressive high note in the aria is the last one. Nilsson sings it softly, causing her voice to take on a girlish quality. This is pretty amazing since many people consider Nilsson's voice to be frigid in tone.I believe that the "Don Giovanni" aria, the Beethoven concert aria and the "Ballo" aria should have been scrapped in favor of "Vieni! t'affretta!", "La luce langue", and a shortened version of the Sleepwalking Scene from "Macbeth"."
V. Chau | 11/25/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm amazed at how accurately this recording captures the power, majesty and beauty of Birgit Nilsson's mighty voice. Many of her Decca recordings do not do full justice to her huge strong voice. Fortunately, her Isolde and Brunnhilde with Karl Bohm (Deutsche) more accurately captures her voice. Now too these recordings join the ranks of those two legendary recordings. In these recordings, she is recorded closer and you can feel the power of her voice more realistically. Bravo Testament for issuing these on CDs beautifully remastered."
V. Chau | 11/06/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a superb achievement by Birgit Nilsson and Walter Legge. The Philharmonia plays gorgeously and my goodness, listen to Birgit Nilsson sing!! Absolutely nobody today can sing like Nilsson!! You don't know what you are missing out if you haven't listened to this. Besides this, you should get the Duet CD with Hans Hotter - another superb achievement."
A Treasure Record: Birgit Nilsson In Her Prime!!
Rudy Avila | Lennox, Ca United States | 09/02/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This recording is a fine album to add to your collection if you happen to 1: love Birgit Nilsson 2: Collect early recordings of famous opera divas like Birgit Nilsson. In this album, we are treated to arias from operas Birgit sang in both full-length productions and in concert. The large diva from Sweden was most famous for her make Wagner-proud portrayal of Wagner heroines - Brunhilde, Isolde most notably, but she was also quite accomplished in the reperotoire of Strauss, Verdi and Beethoven. Her Mozart (she only sang Dona Ana in Don Giovanni) was not good, I'm afraid to say. I feel her interpretation was very off in the Mozart style (she sounded very weird and her Nordic lyricism was not appropriate for the Mozartian technique)Her Dona Ana lacks the dramatic lustre of such sopranos as Leontyne Price, Sena Jurinac, Carol Vaness and Edda Moser. Compare Nilsson's "Or Sai Che L'onore" featured here to that of Price and Moser -major difference! Her rendition of Beethoven's moving concert aria "Oh Perfido!" is very well-done. It's an extended monologue full of bravura and Nilsson captures the spirit of the aria and Beethoven perfectly. She is also a fine Leonore in Fidelio, though I still personally prefer Sena Jurinac as Fidelio. Naturally, Sweden being closer to Germany, Nilsson was able to learn to sing the language well. She sang her best roles in German- whether it was Fidelio, Salome, Brunhilde, Isolde, Venus or Elisabeth in Tannhauser, or Elektra, or featured here - Agathe in Webber's German Gothic opera Die Freischutz. Now her Verdi was not that bad, though there have been better Aidas then hers. Nilsson took on a lot of demanding roles and always did well, but often she never strayed from the same Wagner technique so that everything she sang sounded like a Wagner heroine (this is the stigma critics always gave her) but Nilsson's voice was beautiful, big and illustrious. Very few singers could do what she did. She surpassed Maria Callas folks, to my assessment. Here are her Aida and Leonora from Forza, and her Leonora was better than her Aida. Not featured here is her fine Puccini roles- Turandot and Tosca. Also, if I were alive in the time Nilsson was singing at the Met, I'd have killed to see her sing Bellini's Norma, a role I feel was perfectly suited for her.