VERDI: Aïda
Anka Harterps (Aïda). Jonas Kaufmann (Radames). Ekaterina Semenchuk (Amneris) Ludovic Tézier (Amonasro). Erwinn Schrott (Ramfis). Marco Spotti (The King). St. Cecilia Chorus and Orch/Sir Antonio Pappano, cond.
WARNER CLASSICS 552766 (3 disks) TT: 39:56 / 40:41 / 64:59
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VIRGIL THOMSON: Complete Songs for Voice and Piano
Sarah Peli Pelletier, Lynne McMurtry, contralto. William Hite, tenor. Aaron Engelberth, baritone. Alison D'Amato, piano. Linda Osborn, piano. John McDonald, percussion.
NERW WORLD REORDS 80775 (3 disks) TT: 71:20 / 76:-4 / 50:57
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Yet another recording of Verdi's Nile opera, and a very fine one indeed. The cast is uniformly strong, with Jonas Kaufmann a perfect Radamès. He has the decibels when required and yet sings with great sensitivity, particularly in the closing scene. Anja Harteros is an exciting soprano and in the last decade has been acclaimed in a wide variety of roles and particularly for her remarkable performances of Stauss's Four Last Songs (REVIEW). However, hers, in spite of its beauty of sound and total control, is not ideal for Aïda. The remainder of the cast is excellent, and there surely is much to enjoy in this version. If you enjoy Aïda, don't miss the reissue of the 1950 Bjoerling/Milanov RCA recording (REVIEW), the 1928 first recording (REVIEW), and the collector surely should have at least one of the Leontyne Price available performances. This new set is handsomely packaged (with a surprisingly drab cover design) and contains a 176 page booklet with photos and complete libretto.

American composer Virgil Thomson (1896 - 1989) is one of the most respected of American composers. He was instrumental in the development of the "American Sound" in classical music, called a modernist, a neoclassicist. He was highly praised by Aaron Copland, and wrote profusely, including several symphonies, three operas (Four Saints in Three Acts, Lord Byron, The Mother of Us All), chamber music, music for solo instruments, and a large collection of songs. One of his most famous works is his incidental music for the documentary The Plow That Broke the Plains.. He also was a noted music critic; you can read many of his reviews in the Metropolitan Opera database. In spite of his important place in the American musical scene, Thomson's music doesn't seem to appeal much to audiences, evidenced by the lack of multiple recordings. This fine New World Records 3-disk set is a major release for collectors. Supported by the Virgil Thomson Foundation, it is a comprehensive view of the composer's vocal work. The 77 songs are shared by the three fine singers and they all obviously are dedicated to this project. A 76-page booklet gives extensive program notes and complete texts. A quality, and important, release of unusual repertory.

R.E.B. (April 2016)