Gottlob Frick / Raphael Arie / Angela Gheorghiu / Jody Karin Applebaum

Arias from Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Die Hochzeit des Figaro, Die Zauberflöte, Fidelio, Der Barbier von Sevilla, Die Jüdin, Zar und Zimmermann, Der Waffenschmied, Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor, Don Carlos, Eugen Onegin, Lohengrin and Tristan und Isolde
Gottlob Frick, bass; various orch/cond.
PREISER 93443 (mono) (F) (ADD) TT: 75:00

Arias from Il Barbiere di Siviglia, La Sonnambula, Ernani, Simon Boccanegra, Don Carlos, Faust, A Life for the Tsar, Boris Godunov, The Demon, Eugene Onegin, Prince Igor, Sadko and La Bohème
Raphaël Arié, bass; various orch/cond.
PREISER 89610 (mono) (F) (ADD) TT: 75:20

PUCCINI: Arias from Madama Butterfly, Edgar, La rondine, La Bohéme, La fanciulla del West, Manon Lescaut, Suor Angelica, Gianni Schicchi and Turandot
Angela Gheorghiu, soprano; Roberto Alagna, tenor; Royal Opera House Chorus and Orch/Anton Coppola, cond.
EMI CLASSICS 57955 (F) (DDD) TT: 70:39

"Serious Fun" - a collection of 20 humorous songs performed by soprano Jody Karin Applebaum, soprano, and pianist Marc-André Hamelin, pianist
ALBANY TROY 744 (F) (DDD) TT: 69:46

Gottlob Frick (1906-1994) was called by Wilhelm Furtwängler the "blackest bass" of his generation, and for good reason. Frick's voice was powerful, deep and secure. His career was mainly in Europe although in 1961 he sang bass roles in the Ring at the Met. He can be heard in fine form in Solti's Decca Ring, as Hunding in Die Walküre and Hagen in Götterdämmerung. Now we have this fine Preiser CD of excerpts from operas of Mozart, Beethoven, Rossini, Halévy, Lortzing, Nicolai, Verdi, Tchaikovsky, and Wagner, recorded during Frick's peak period, 1950-1954. Impressive to say the least, and welcome. Of lesser interest is the Preiser CD devoted to bass Raphaël Arié (1920-1988), a fine singer who lacked the power, imagination, and personality of other basses of the time, in particular Boris Christoff and Nicolai Ghiaurov. Still he had a fine career focused primarily in Rome. Arié can be heard in varied repertory listed above in Decca recordings made 1947-1953 with orchestras conducted by Alberto Erede, Isidor Karr, and Josef Krips. As usual, Preiser's transfers are exemplary.

Angela Gheorghiu, a major figure on the operatic scene, continues to impress with this packed CD of arias from Puccini operas. Least successful is "O mio babbino caro" from Gianni Schicchi, in which pitch is suspect, but otherwise she comes through with flying colors easily negotiating Puccini's demanding music. Her husband, tenor Roberto Alagna, is heard briefly as Calaf in the climactic notes of "In Questa Reggia." Recorded in Milan in July 2004, the sound is broad and spacious. This is a deluxe package with a 60+page booklet, complete texts and many photos.

"Serious Fun" shows the comic side of remarkable pianist Marc-André Hamelin and his wife, soprano Jody Karin Applebaum, recorded during performances September 15/16, 2000 at the Woodmere Art Museum in Philadelphia, before a highly appreciative audience. This program has been presented often publicly and everyone involved seems to be having a great time. Soprano Applebaum's voice has uneven production and is hardly of concert quality, but she is fine in this repertory. Complete texts are provided. An enjoyable, well-filled (69:6) CD.

R.E.B. (July 2005)