Westminster Choir. New York Philharmonic / Pierre Boulez, cond.
DUTTON EPOCH SACD CDLX 7392 TT: 95:44
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PUCCINI: Madama Butterfly
Melody Moore (Cio-cio-San). Stefano Secco (Pinkerton). Elisabeth Kulman (Suzuki). Lester Lynch (Sharpless). Alexander Kaubacher (Goro). Kevin Short (Bonzo). Amitai Pati (Yamadori). Liesbeth Devos (Kate Pinkerton). Gulbenkian Chorus and Orchestra / Lawrence Foster, cond.
PENTATONE SACD PTC 5186 785 (2 dsks) TT: 66:19 / 77:03
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Qomen's Chorus. New York Philharmonic / Leonard Bernstein, cond.
DUTTON EPOCH SACD CDLX 7394 TT:65:43
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This new Wagner SACD is unique in several ways. Total playing time is 95:33 for the muti-channel tracks, but the regular CD tracks do not include tracks 6 - 11 (The Love-Feast of the Apostles). The latter and Siegfried Idyll were recorded in New York's Manhattan Center February 12, 1977; other works were recorded in New York's Philharmonic Hall September 25, 1972 .Of particular interest is a Wagner rariety, a major choral work called A Love-Feast of the Apostles,which was written in 1843 for a huge choral festival. At its premiere it was performed by a chorus of 1,200 male voices. There are five sections, described in the CD notes by Edward Downes taken from the original LP release. Other orchestral works on this disk receive excellent performances as expected from Boulez. Wagner didn't think much of Apostles, and it is heard here in his later version with orchestra. Quad sound throughout is excellent. An intriguing issue indeed!
This site has praised previous operatic recordings by American soprano Melody Moore including La Fanciulla del West (REVIEW), Cavalleria Rusticana (REVIEW), Il Tabarro (REVIEW) and Otello (REVIEW). Moore has a rich,controlled voice, again displayed in this fine new Madama Butterfly. As with her other operatic recordings, the supporting cast is first-rate. The multi-channel audio focuses on front speakers with ambient sound primarily from the rear. This is a handsome production, and the complete libretto is included. A fiche issue!
These Holst and Britten performances were released many years ago by Sony, long discontinued. This was mentioned on this site pointing out that Planets was recorded late in 1971 in Avery Fisher Hall, a site notorious for its poor acoustics. Engineers have done quite well under the circumstances; there is no question reverb was added to make the sound richer. The organ was overdubbed June 7, 1973 at 30th Street Studio, New York City. It does seem odd this organ wasn't added until two years after the original recording. Perhaps it was felt the Avery Fisher Hall organ simply was inadequate; at any rate, organ sound now is mightily impressive. Don't expect the richness—and directionality— heard in Sony's surround issues. The Britten Interludes, recorded in the 30th Street Studio March 8, 1973, have far richer sound than Planets. The Passacaglia from Peter Grimes was not included on the earlier Sony release. We are fortunate to have it here. Epoch's remastering of the original tapes is superb. This is welcome addition to the catalog.