Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Jesse Walters, Giuseppe Verdi, John Barbirolli|
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Why 5?... Find Out
D. Faulk. | United States | 12/02/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This was the 4th Aida I had purchased; the 3rd with Callas. I believe, except for a rather poor-quality recording in 1950, that I have listened to all available testimony of Maria Callas in Verdi's Aida. I was completely blown back by the Mexico City recording, and after listening to it through a few times, I decided what one should listen to when they first get a recording. I purchased this recording, and having never heard of Sir John Barbirolli (most likely due to my terrible neglect of wonderful Covent Garden recordings) I was a bit wary of the recording. Listening to only the first thirty seconds of "Ritorna vincitor!", I was very aware that he had brought out a change in Callas. I accredit him here with bringing Callas to the change in her career, most importantly her Violetta (La Traviata) that to sing less out and more with conviction and emotion is to enhance the drama. She did not give as much as a full-blooded performance in that aria, and certainly provided no mind-bending E-flat at the end of Act II ("O Re, pei sacri numi"), but in this recording we heard more of Aida than of Callas. In that respect, this is perhaps the best of that Aidas that I have heard.
Listening further, I found the "Rivedrai le foreste imbalsamate". Being as gracious as possible to Jess Walters, I must say that the first baritone phrases rather unimpressed me. I swear that somehow Callas must have sensed this would happen, and sang the responding phrase very seductively, but also conveyed the emotions required there. I listened further, and then listened to "e poi morir, e poi morir" over and over again, as it was the only example of Callas conveying such despair on low notes without resorting to quick vibrato. Instead, she sings as if she indeed is dying, providing a sense of realism surely never conveyed before on the sole phrase.
When I first encountered Kurt Baum, it was as Pollione. Well, he certainly failed to enrapture in that instance. When I went to the duet after the afore-mentioned piece, "Pur ti riveggo, mia dolce Aida", I realized that maybe first impressions are not good things. Baum certainly pulled out all the stops on the instance, ranking almost with del Monaco. Were this recording not sung with Callas, it might be remembered for him only (except Barbirolli, since his name is mentioned on every page in the booklet). Well, Callas sings to perfection, combining the emotional aspects of her 1955 recording with the vocally entrancing aspects of the 1951 Mexico City recording. I remember listening to that recording and wishing I could hear "Fuggiam gli ardori inospiti" better. Well, this recording provides that chance.
Little can be said about the "O terra, addio" that has not already been said. Callas sings to perfection, and Baum blows prejudice out the window. A beautiful, if not necessarily classic rendition of Aida. Perhaps Verdi would not have approved, but what is any art if we can't move forward from the way things were done??
This recording gets 5 stars for the sole reason that even now, a year after I recieved it, the melodies and emotions of Aida are still running through my head, undoubtedly because of whoever decided to record Callas's third Aida at Covent Garden. 5 stars? Yes. Bravo."