So-so selections; great sound
D. MCGOVERN | New Zealand | 08/21/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The chief problem with the majority of Lanza releases on BMG is that they are, at best, a hodgepodge of the tenor's career. Seldom is any logic applied to the programming. A case in point is this CD.Lanza excelled in three genres: Neapolitan Songs; Songs of Love and Celebration; and Operatic Arias. If only BMG could be persuaded to release carefully compiled collections in each genre (as they do with Caruso, for example) rather than lumping pop songs next to arias! Such practices only undermine Lanza's credibility with the general public; after all, who but the diehard fans will buy such collections?The Legendary Tenor highlights all that is wrong with BMG's sloppy approach to Lanza. A mere two arias have been selected, both of which Lanza recorded better versions of elsewhere. The love songs generally reinforce the misleading impression that Lanza was purely a singer of schmaltz; missing are his masterpieces in this genre such as Serenade from the Student Prince (instead we have the title song from the movie Serenade - one of the low points on this CD). The Neapolitan songs are limited to just one outstanding example - Torna a Surriento - and the tenor's badly sung Marechiare from his Albert Hall concert of 1958 has been chosen over his far superior 1951 studio effort. (Evidently BMG intended the studio version, as it is erroneously listed in the contents.)On the plus side, O Sole Mio, Granada and Mattinata have never sounded better. Ditto Only a Rose and One Alone from Lanza's final recording sessions. There are also a number of pleasant recordings (A Kiss, Because, the ubiquitous Be My Love, and an exciting Because You're Mine from the aforementioned Albert Hall concert). But there is far more to Lanza than this collection would indicate. Lanza had an extraordinary vocal gift: a tenor voice with a velvety, baritonal fullness, exceptional range, a perfectly placed top and "a timbre to die for", as one reviewer has noted. As if this wasn't enough, Lanza possessed an innate musicality, perfect diction, and a superb sense of phrasing. It is a great shame that BMG chose, for their first Lanza release on CD, to neglect the great recordings from the tenor's legacy.What are the great recordings? You may well ask. In this reviewer's opinion, the arias Che Gelida Manina from La Boheme, Un di all'azzurro spazio from Andrea Chenier, M'appari from Martha, E lucevan le stelle & Recondita Armonia from Tosca, Questa o Quella from Rigoletto, the Otello Monologue and Finale from Otello, and Vesti la Giubba from the soundtrack of For the First Time (available on video) represent the pinnacle of Lanza's operatic achievement. The Neapolitan songs are scattered throughout his CDs, but his best collection is the Mario! Lanza At His Best (see my review if you're interested) and the Love Songs are well represented on The Student Prince and When Day is Done CD collections.Conclusion: buy this CD if you're looking for a pleasant, albeit unrepresentative, sampling of Lanza; serious vocal admirers should look elsewhere among the tenor's releases. And one final note: ignore the assertion by the writer of the liner notes regarding Lanza's "serious vocal problems." It simply isn't true. Lanza may have been an erratic singer at times, but the reviewer seems to be confusing Lanza's declining health with non-existent vocal problems."
Great Songs As Only Mario Lanza Can Sing Them
Edith Harvath | Buena Park, CA United States | 09/07/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I love this CD. It has all the great Mario Lanza songs--"Be My Love," "Because," "The Loveliest Night of the Year," and many others. What a voice! Powerful, emotional, and, as I read somewhere, it's a voice that, no matter what ups and downs Mario had in his career and his personal life, never lost that edge, that passion, that intensity, that were so much a part of his
personality. I have spent many hours listeng to what has become one of my favorite CDs."