Pavarotti's voice at its best
Ralph Moore | Bishop's Stortford, UK | 10/24/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In this recital CD, a youthful Pavarotti sings nine arias: eight favourites including extended excerpts from "Guglielmo Tell" and "Trovatore" and a rarity, "Io conosco un giardino" from Petri's "Maristella". Four are with the Vienna Philharmonic conducted by Callas' long-time accompanist Nicola Rescigno and the other five are with the New Philharmonia ably conducted by the then husband of Mirella Freni (like Pavarotti, from Modena) Leone Magiera. Pavarotti is supported by the Ambrosian Singers in "Com'e gentil" and a variety of competent comprimario singers, including a young Arleen Auger. In other words, Decca spared no expense in their production of recordings by their star tenor property.
As a result, Pavarotti made a dozen or so mostly superb recitals for Decca and here is a very pleasing selection, showcasing his voice in finest estate. He is thrilling, expressive, tender and impassioned, only very occasionally lapsing into the slightly irritating glottal habit but mostly singing with flawless legato and pellucid enunciation of the text. He was exceptionally consistent in his prime and there is little difference between these arias and the complete opera recordings of the Rossini, Bellini or "La Boheme". Particularly fine is his gentle moulding of that most affectingly plangent of arias, "E la solita storia"; the shading of his mezza voce and pianissimi is truly beautiful. It is easily my favourite item on this disc and gives the lie to the accusation that Pavarotti just stood and sang in stentorian manner.
This album makes a lovely companion piece to his earlier Verdi and Donizetti recital conducted by Edward Downes. Between them, those two discs illustrate what the fuss was all about."