WAGNER: Excerpts from Siegfried, Götterdämmerung, and Tristan und Isolde
Plácido Domingo, tenor; Deborah Voigt, Violeta Urmana and Natalie Dessay, sopranos; Royal Opera House Orch/Antonio Pappano, cond.
EMI CLASSICS 97683 (2 CDs) (B) TT: 57:26 & 69:55
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CANTELOUBE: Chants d'Auvergne (Vol. II). Triptyque. Chants de France.
Véronique Gens, soprano; Orchestre National de Lille-Région/Pas-de Calais/Serge Baudo, cond.
NAXOS 8.570338 (B) TT: 56:58
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STRAUSS: Four Last Songs. Cäcilie, Op. 72 No. 2. Morgen, Op. 27 No. 4. Wiegenlied, Op. 41 No. 1. Ruhe, meine Seele, Op. 27 No. 1. Meinem Kinde, Op. 37 No. 3. Zueignung, Op. 10, No. 1
Jessye Norman, soprano; Leipzig Gewandhaus Orch/Kurt Masur, cond.
PHILIPS 475 8507 (M) TT: 46:05
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Excerpts from Verdi's La Traviata, Ponchielli's La Gioconda, Wagner's Tristan und Isolde, and Bellini's Norma and I Puritani
Maria Callas, soprano/various orch/cond.
WARNER CLASSICS 256469814 (B) TT: 68:53
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Arias from Norma, Tannhäuser, La traviata, La forza del destino, Mefistofele, Manon Lescaut, Faust, Oprichnik, The Maid of Orleans, Mazeppa, The Sorceress, Pique Dame, and Iolanthe
Galina Vishnevskaya, soprano; Orch. cond. by Boris Khaikin and Aleksandr Melik-Pashayev
PREISER 89690 (F) TT: 77:48
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For those who missed the previous issue of these Domingo Wagner recordings, here they are coupled together and at a reduced price. The Siegfried/Tristan disk, recorded 1999/2000, was issued in 2000 and mentioned on this site (REVIEW). Other works were recorded the following year. Since that time, Domingo has recorded a complete Tristan, and it seems unlikely we'll have more Wagner from him. He's is in remarkable form, Deborah Voight and Violeta Urmana are fine partners for him, and we have the luxury of Natalie Dessay's Forest Bird. CD notes are in three languages, but no texts are provided.

About two years ago Naxos issued Canteloube's Songs of the Auvergne sung by Véronique Gens with the Lille National Orchestra directed by Jean-Claude Casadesus, a wonderful disk in every way, and one of the finest of the many recordings of this enchanting repertory. Naxos thought enough of it to issue it not only on regular CD, but on DVD audio and SACD as well. This new issue thus far has been issued only on regular CD. Recorded in January 2007, it features the same soprano and orchestra but a different conductor—Serge Baudo, who was eighty at the time. This disk offers some of the lesser-known Auvergne songs as well as Triptyque, three songs for voice and orchestra written in 1914 on poems by Roger Frene, as well as six other Canteloube settings of songs of France. A total delight in every way, beautifully performed and recorded. Six other Canteloube arrangements are also included. If this repertory interests you, check out the Haydn House issue of Songs of France arranged by Canteloube sung by Lucie Daullene (none of which are to be found on the new Naxos issue) (REVIEW).

Many listeners consider Jessye Norman's 1982 recording of Strauss's Four Last Songs to be among thefinest ever made. Here it is on a mid-priced reissue, coupled with the six songs that were on the original issue. This release seems rather unnecessary; the same recordings were issued by Philips mid-2005 in a budget-priced 2-disk set that also included nineteen other Strauss songs with pianist Geoffrey Parsons.

Warner Classics has reissued some of the earliest recordings of Maria Callas, and at budget price. Collectors already will have these, but here they are again, music from Tristan, Norma and I puritani, coupled with excerpts from her 1952 recording of La Gioconda, and her 1953 recording of La traviata, about a half-hour of the latter, considerably less from Gioconda. From the latter, we do have "Suicidio!" and several brief snippets—but not that famous Callas B-flat from Act I, which she sang on this recording better than anyone else—except possibly Zinka Milanov. An odd compilation, but it is inexpensive.

A welcome addition to the catalog is Preiser's CD devoted to early Melodiya recordings(dates not given) of soprano Galina Vishnevskaya. There are quite a few recordings made later in her career, but these earlier recordings show her in remarkably fresh, controlled vocal estate, unlike what is heard in some of her later recordings, fine though they might be—and collectors surely will wish to investigate EMI's collection of recordings made from 1974-1978 (REVIEW). As usual, Preiser's transfers are perfection.

R.E.B. (October 2007)