Number Ten and Counting; And Simply the Best Caruso on CD
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 11/07/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Naxos, praise be, is issuing all of Caruso's known recordings in the order in which they were recorded. In this, the tenth of the series, we have reached the era which, for some of us, is the ne plus ultra as regards Caruso's depth of musicianship and richness of voice, 1916 to early 1917. Not long afterward his health began to ebb. But in this time period his tenor voice was at its most baritonal, his breath control inhuman, and his musicianship scrubbed of it earlier vulgarity. I know there are those who revel in the latter, but I'm not one of them. We also get several alternate takes that were not issued on 78 at the time of their recording--one of the opening of the Quartet from 'Rigoletto' that only goes to the point where the mezzo enters, another of the complete Lucia 'Sextet' with Amelita Calli-Curci, Giuseppe de Luca and Marcel Journet among others. Of special interest here are the selections sung in French--with excellent diction, it must be said--Tchaikovsky's 'Pourquoi?,' and Lensky's aria from 'Eugène Onegin' (gorgeous!), as well as Godard's 'Chanson de Juin,' Saint-Saëns's 'Vois ma misère, hélas' from 'Samson et Dalila.' Best of all are the two arias from Bizet's 'Pearl Fishers': 'De mon amie, fleur endormie,' and especially an absolutely stunning 'Je crois entendre encore.' Other highlights: the full Quartet from 'Rigoletto' with Galli-Curci, Flora Perini, and de Luca; 'M'appari' from Flotow's 'Martha' with a final B-flat that will knock your socks off (and SO much better than the version he recorded more than ten years earlier).Fauré's 'Sancta Maria' sounds Italian, I must say. 'Santa Lucia' is just a tad hokey. But Caruso's own 'Tiempo antico' is delightful. Andrea Chenier's 'Come un bel di di maggio' is sung with delicacy, grace and ardor. There are a couple takes of a ditty ('L'alba separa dall luce l'ombra') by Tosti and another couple of popular songs by Castaldon and De Crescenzo.Finally, two takes of an aria I'd never heard before from Anton Rubinstein's 'Nerone,' 'Ah! lumière du jour.' Caruso's trumpet-like high notes are really something here.I've acquired all but two of the previous Caruso CDs on Naxos. I've also had earlier transfers of some of the material and I have to say that Naxos and their miracle man, Ward Marston, are doing an amazing job of presenting cleaned-up yet true-sounding transfers. Evviva!TT=76:59Scott Morrison"
Caruso for a song.
John Austin | Kangaroo Ground, Australia | 03/14/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In the liner notes provided with this CD, you will read that opera patrons during the years these recordings were made sometimes paid the equivalent of $1,000 to attend a Caruso performance. Modern marketing, Naxos, and restoration engineer Ward Marston allow us to hear 77 minutes of Caruso recordings for merely a fraction of this cost.Doyen of reviewers J Scott Morrison has already given Volume 10 of the Naxos Complete Recordings of Enrico Caruso series a rave review, so I shall add only a few comments. Regarding track identification: the composer Faure to whom Track 1 is attributed is not Gabriel but the less well-known French composer J B Faure (1830-1914). The Tchaikovsky item in Track 4 is his Op 6, No 5. The starry quartet and sextet items (2 takes of each) are the ones to go for in the Caruso discography. They are (almost) debut recordings for his compatriot Amelita Galli-Curci, one of the few singers whose voice, like Caruso's, was wonderfully well caught by the acoustic recording process."