SIBELIUS: Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 47. STRAUSS: Sinfonia
ROSSINI: The Barber of Seville
WAGNER: Tristan and Isolde
This CD of live performances with the Boston Symphony conducted by Charles Munch is a treasure. This performance of the Sibelius concerto with Ruggiero Ricci was recorded January 29, 1960. The American violinist was born in San Francisco 24 July 1918 and died at the age of 94 6 August 2012 at his home in Palm Springs, California. Ricci was an inedible virtuoso whose career began when he was only 10, and he appeared often wi orchestras and in solo recitals. This performance of the Sibelius concerto is among he finest performances I've ever head with in e powerful accompaniment; Munch shows uncommon sensitivity in music by a composer usually not associated with him. If you love the Sibelius concerto, this is essential listening. Munch is not known as an interpreter of Richard Strauss. Commercially he recorded only Don Quixote and Till Eulenspiegel. This dazzling performance of Sinfonia domestica is from a concert 28 February 1959 and builds to a magnificent climax. Both of these are stereo broadcasts and Andrew Rose has worked his usual mastery in providing best possible audio experience.
Baritone Riccardo Stracciari (1875 - 1955) was a major singer of his time. He specialized in Italian opera and appeared more than 90 times at the Met, making his debut in 1906 as Rigoletto. This superb reissue of his famous 1929 LaScala recording of one of his signature roles, Figaro in The Barber of Seville , displays his vocal virtuosity and style, a legendary performance. It seems odd he never sang at the Met. He is joined by one of the great divas of the time,Spanish soprano Mercedes Caspir, whose Rosina hits all of those stratospheric notes with ease. She also shines in the Letter Scene in which she sings her own arrangement of 12 Variations on Je suis Lindor, an interlude marred only by an out-of-tune piano. Mark Obert-Thorn made this miraculous transfer and one would never expect that this recording was made ninety years ago. There are plans to issue the other complete opera recording of Stracciari and Caspir, Verdi's Rigoletto. I look forward to it. Thank you MOT, and Pristine!
Tristan is perhaps the most demanding of heldentenor roles, and the role is difficult to cast. Birgit Nilsson had problems finding tenors to match her Isolde. For her 1961 Decca recording conduced by Sir George Solti the best they could find was Fritz Uhl. In a famous Met 1959 performance, there were three, Raymon Vinay for Act I, Karl Liebel for Act II, and Albert Da Costa for Act III. DGG has just issued a Tristan live from Bayreuth in 1966, and again the weakness is the tenor, in this case Wolfgang Windgassen (what a name for a heldentenor!). Experienced though he is in things Wagnerian, this late in his career he cannot deliver, which is unfortunate as he remainder of he cast is superb. Karl Böhm leads his exciting performance. Audio is acceptable stereo. . Each of the three acts fits onto one CD; the Blu Ray disk offers the complete performance with a bonus of Böhm rehearsing excerpts from Act III. This is a class production in a box with a 126-page booklet that contains extensive program notes and the complete libretto. Should you not already have his performance, here's an opportunity to own it with finest audio.
R.E.B. (August 2019)