A mixed bag of romantic offerings
D. MCGOVERN | New Zealand | 12/17/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"BMG's Lanza collections are usually a mixed bag, and this album of love songs is no exception. Interspersed with some magnificent performances are an assortment of the good, the bad, and the mediocre. Part of the problem, I suspect, is that BMG simply doesn't appreciate what treasures it has buried in its recording vaults. It's enough to bring back Lanza from the grave, swearing in High C (as Time Magazine once tut-tutted) at the injustice of it all. Lanza, in fairness to BMG, was an inconsistent performer. In the earlier part of his brief career, he had a tendency to sing sharp, and at times his approach to various arias and songs lacked sensitivity. That's not to say he couldn't get it right. At his best he was extraordinary, combining one of the most powerful voices on record with just the right degree of melting mezza voce and a dazzling array of vocal colours. His sense of phrasing was, as Enrico Caruso Jr noted, "instinctively right", and his ability to get into the heart of a song was unquestionable. Even at his roughest, his singing was usually compelling, and one could never label any of his performances "boring". The bad recordings generally fall into three periods of his life: the Coca-Cola Radio shows of 1951-52, the disastrous Lanza on Broadway album of 1956, and the illness-affected stereo remakes of his Christmas Carols and Student Prince albums, both recorded in 1959, the year of his death. The present CD includes material from the first two periods. The "Coke" shows, as I've opined in a number of other reviews, produced some amazing performances of both arias and love songs. Unfortunately, however, lack of rehearsal time coupled with poor arrangements often led to the kind of wild, unrestrained singing that Lanza's detractors love to attack (while at the same time overlooking his great performances). On this CD, a number of Coke recordings were released for the first time: Danny Boy; My Wild Irish Rose; Neapolitan Love Song; and Torna a Surriento. The first two are lovely, notwithstanding a poor ending on Danny Boy and some uncertain moments in the tenor's lower register in this song. Victor Herbert's Neapolitan Song contains some piercingly sharp singing, a rough ending and some agreeable mezza voce. Torna a Surriento is too fast, too unpolished and not a patch on the piano accompaniment-only version that Lanza recorded three years later for the movie Serenade.Among the other Coke selections is the sublime Memories, and the alternately touching and thrilling I'll Be Seeing You, with a B Flat climax that will knock your socks off. Wanting You is rough and exciting in equal measure - ditto the powerhouse Ah Sweet Mystery of Life with its ridiculously fast tempo.Two songs from the ill-fated Lanza on Broadway album have been inexplicably included, though it must be said that at least these represent the better moments from this dreadful session. You'll Never Walk Alone contains more sharp singing, uneven rhythm and a certain bleariness, while the Borodin-adapted And This Is My Beloved is alternately belted and seductive. Incidentally, Lanza recorded a superior version of You'll Never Walk Alone for his Coke Shows; this is featured on the CD of the same name.The real highlights for me are the immortal Serenade from The Student Prince; a thrilling Only a Rose (recorded three months after the Lanza on Broadway session and featuring a completely different voice); the aforementioned My Wild Irish Rose & I'll Be Seeing You and a mature rendition of Schubert's Ave Maria. Fans will also enjoy Arrivederci, Roma, and the ubiquitous Be My Love.All in all an enjoyable hour, but if only more thought had been put into some of the selections..."
One of the most prodigious natural voices ever existed !
Hiram Gomez Pardo | Valencia, Venezuela | 06/09/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Mario Lanza proves once more his unsurpassed gifts for the belle canto with an outstanding easiness, limpid intonation, and engrossing conveyance even for the most exigent listener.
This album includes two well known aspects of his career, the easy to listen pieces of well reminded soundtracks and unforgettable melodies and then a brief incursion in the light classic repertoire.
These recordings are absolutely a must for all those who admired and still keep being hard fans of his craft. Don't miss it!
The best tenor ever
G. Sawaged | Canada | 03/01/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Mario Lanza is indeed my favourite of all tenors either living or not. I must have almost everything he ever recorded. This album has a whopping 24 tracks including 5 previously unreleased recordings, which make this a must for any true fan of Lanza. This album has some of his most romantic songs, mostly from stage and film. You won't find any opera here, which is fine, there's plenty of his other albums that have that. These are songs that are guaranteed to stir your heart and soul while Mario's voice will melt them. This is a must-have and at this price there's no reason not to have it."