Featuring the best reviews from our loyal ClassicsOnline members.
(18 August – 31 August)
- STRAVINSKY, I.: Persephone (sung in German) (Schade, Wunderlich, Hessen Radio Choir and Symphony Orchestra, Dixon) (Audite: Audite95.619)
- MAHLER, G.: Symphony No. 2, "Resurrection" (Stotun, Kucerova, London Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra, V. Jurowski) (LPO: LPO-0054)
- PUCCINI: Turandot (Cigna, Merli, Olivero) (1938) (Naxos: 8.110193-94)
Wunderlich at his best
This album is brilliant because it contains Stravinsky's Persophene in German language (a rare possibility) and has Fritz Wunderlich as protagonist. Who knows Wunderlich's singing and figuration of the role is breathtaking. He sang this role only in this concert; fortunately the Hessen Radio Station has recorded the life performance so we can listen this rare document.
It's a merit by ClassicsOnline to present this recording for download reasons. Thanks!
Mahler 2nd Symphony, Jurowski & LPO
I first looked for the set on ClassicsOnline because there was no CD available in the USA at the time. The recording had been awarded Record of the Month in the August 2011 in Gramophone Magazine (UK). My download from ClassicsOnline came in at 320 kbps, the largest bit rate available for mp3. But when I listened I was astounded at the sound quality. I use an iPod and expensive headphones so that my family doesn't have to suffer for my extreme tastes (i.e. all classical music)! With my equipment on this recording you can tell you are in a concert hall. But the acoustics are amazing. The separation of instruments and choral singers, with the soloist well to the fore, are impressive.
I am no expert on Mahler but I do have all his symphonies. This recording exceeds all others that I have. The "attack" in the start of the first movement, faster than some other versions, tells you all you need to know about the quality of Vladimir Jurowski and the LPO. This is a long piece and I have over 13,700 tracks already in my system, but I have played this piece three times since I downloaded it. The clarity of the downloaded product is first class. For me, clarity is the most important thing, and it is the reason why I prefer the latest [good] recordings over those from an earlier time. Plus, lest we forget crass money, it costs less on ClassicsOnline than elsewhere.
A search for the very best
There are many great recordings of Turandot: the Nilsson I and II come to mind, so does the Sutherland/Pavarotti/Caballé version as a reference. There are countless live recordings too.
This one is very special. The sound quality is not brilliant, especially in picking up the Emperor's voice, but the rest of the singers are caught well and so is the chorus and orchestra.
The singing is extraordinary. Gina Cigna voice was huge, with a seemingly limitless upper register. She meets her match in the rich and mature burble of Francesco Merli. The Riddle Scene is thrilling. This is very great singing. There are a few sopranos like Gina Cigna around today, but none like Francesco Merli. His masque placement generates tremendous squillo, and his voice always has so much rich and glorious tone in reserve. His only downfall is his upper register was not to match Pavarotti's or Barioni's. But this shouldn't discourage you, because he offers so much else. Like Aureliano Pertile, he is an extremely exciting performer, and his voice, though huge, is very musical.
Magda Olivero, in the fifth year of her career as Liù, is spectacular. She brings aching golden tone and tender yet strong characterisation for a highly emotive performance. Her love and devotion to her art is priceless.
Franco Ghione is a great conductor, because he lets the singers dictate the pace and keeps the orchestra in discipline. He was a steady and accurate pair of hands, and he is sadly missed these days: a conductor we would give much for.
The other great value of this recording, thought it stands highly on merit, is as a historical document of a bygone era: an all-Italian casting so well in the traditions of the time.
Buy this recording, you will never regret it! The very first recording of Turandot is, artistically, still the very best!
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