Great performance spoiled by the sound engineers
J. BEILER | San Diego, CA | 12/13/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This recording features a terrific cast of singers, all in very good voice. And Riccardo Muti conducts the forces of La Scala in a great outpouring of passion. So why only three stars? Quite simply, the recording is irreparably marred by poor sound quality. There are two problems. First, the microphones are placed way too far from the performers--and second, the recording studio is painfully deficient in natural reverberation. Increase your playback volume, and the resultant sound becomes strident, even harsh. I assure you that no amount of fiddling with your stereo's settings will substantially ameliorate this situation. The performance lacks all sense of presence. My ear simply could not adjust--and I therefore cannot recommend this otherwise fine performance.
Your best bet for "La Forza del Destino" will undoubtedly be the Levine recording, which features great sound, the only drawback being Leontyne Price in a voice that is just slightly past its prime.
All in all, a terrible shame--because Freni and Domingo are both just terrific here in this recording . . . singing somewhere out there in the distance.
A pleasant surprise
Angus W. Grant | Melbourne, Australia | 06/13/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I was thrilled at how much I enjoyed this recording. Poor reviews had put me off purchasing a copy for years, (Muti's uncompromising approach alienates some) which goes to show you just have to try it out for yourself at times.
Yes, the sound can be a bit perplexing in this recording, but it was obviously an aesthetic choice. It is very clear (excellent for dramatic chords) and very dry. Combined with very little bloom in the bass range this at times creates a a distanced view of the action, which is a pity as there is plenty of it. The higher voices cope well with this acoustic but the lower males struggle at times and should have been more closely miked. But let's be very clear: the sound is quite acceptable and certainly not a reason for avoiding this recording.
This is some of the best singing from Domingo I have ever heard. His normal dramatic and musical instincts are there (although his vocal acting here is particularly fine) but combined with a freedom of tone and ringing high notes that are not always present in his recordings. You will find yourself looking forward to and savouring each line he sings.
Zancanaro, who was the primo baritone in this repertoire in the 80's and early 90's (yet he was somehow never given a profile), is in great form.
The duets with Domingo in Acts III and IV all sizzle. I wish they had put greater emphasis on his voice in the sound balance, and the sound engineer will serve several years in purgatory for this sin. You should buy all his recordings before they disappear (like his misunderstood Rigoletto).
Freni is in very powerful voice and copes with the demands better than I though she would. There was an emotional abandon in her voice at this time that makes her recordings so exciting, even if there is a sense of the fruit being very ripe on the vine. If anything is missing from her performance it is a sense of the transcendental. She is too earthy.
The smaller roles are all fine, Zajic is no Baltsa and lacks a little personality but sings very clearly. Plishka suffers from the dryness of the recording.
The chorus is exceptionally fine, nuanced and well recorded (go figure!!). It is a typical Muti performance with fast tempi, intense energy and attention to detail.
I would recommend this set wholeheartedly and it compliments the Sinopoli set very well. The recorded sound on the DG set suits the work far better and perhaps gives it a sense of theatre missing on this set. Yet this set is tauter and far better paced. Both cast have advantages over the other but the two leading males in the Muti set are markedly superior. That's why I have both!!!!!"
Exciting Verdi Singing
Scott Jelsey | Houston, TX United States | 03/29/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Wow! Muti's Forza recording is dazzling - Domingo, Freni, Zancanaro and Zajic all sound amazing. Muti conducts a very exciting perfomance, if a bit on the fast side at times. The La Scala orchestra plays its heart out and the digital recording is reference quality. A must have recording!"