An Excellent Survey of Great Baritones Singing 100 Years Ago
Doug - Haydn Fan | California | 12/12/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This easy to enjoy CD offers a fine cross section of a large number of baritones (19) singing during the first two decades of the 20th Century. Most of these recordings are accessible to modern ears - the baritone voice did not suffer the cut-offs inflicted on soprano and some tenor high notes, and the acoustic recordings and handful of early electrics are here well transferred by Nimbus. Much of the music is standard stuff, but a listener should be able to appreciate from any of the selctions the qualities that made these singers major stars.
Although a few singers, such as Maurel, are caught at the end of their careers, most of the singers are quite triumphant and impress without reservations. If you have never heard a Battistini, a Ruffo, a de Luca, an Amato; a fabulous French baritone like Renaud; or one of the great German baritones such as Husch, Schwarz or Schlusnus, you owe it to yourself to try this recording. These are really fabulous singers with marvelous skills, many of whom were involved in premieres of operas still in today's repetoire.
This is a sensational example of just what one looks for in a sampler - an opera lover's version of a Whitman's super-sampler of chocolates, only far less filling. (Though possibly just as habit-forming!) The best part is that should you find yourself impressed with a particular singer - or several - in these days of reissues it's possible to follow up and purchase CDs devoted singly or primarily to practically all these singers.
Nimbus provides very thorough notes by Roland Vernon. Each artist is given a full paragraph biography and a follow up note on the musical selection on the selection chosen to represent the baritone.
If you've heard that old singers are all terrible and/or bad musicians this album may offer a correction!"