PUCCINI: Prelude for Orchestra. Adagetto per orchestra da camera. Excerpts from La Rondine, Madame Butterfly, Edgar, Manon Lescaut, La fanciulla del West, and Suor Angelica,
Plácido Domingo, tenor; Violeta Urmana, soprano; Vienna State Opera Chorus; Vienna Philharmonic/Alberto Verones, cond.
DGG B0013341 TT: 63:48

BYRN TERFEL - Scarborough Fair - Songs from the British Isles
Byrn Terfel, baritone; Kate Royal, soprano; Ronan Keating, pop singer, Sharon Corr, violin; John Paricelli, nylon guitar; Andy Findon/Neil Martiun, tin whistles; Neiul Martin, uilleann pipes; London Voices; London Symphony Orch/Barry Wordsworth, cond.
DGG B0012642 TT: 54:37

WAGNER: Arias from Tannhäuser, Die Walküre, Siegfried, and Götterdammerung. D'ALBERT: Arias from Tiefland. LORTZING: Ichhabe Numero Eins frtom Der Wildschütz
Wolfgang Windgassen, tenor; various orch/cond.
PREISER 93457 TT: 76:21

PUCCINI & MASCAGNI: Creator Records (Volume I)
Cesira Ferrani as Manon Lescaut (Manon Lescaut)(1893); Cesira Ferrani as Mimi (La Bohème)(1896); Emilio de Marachi as Cavaradossi (Tosca)(1900); Giovanni Zenatello as Lt. Pinkerton I(Madama Butterfly)(1904); Florenca Easton as Lauretta (1918); Maria Zamboni as Liú (1926); Giuseppe Nessi as Pong (1926); Emilio Venturini as Pang (1926); Gemma Bellincioni as Santuzza (1890); Fernando De Lucia as Fritz Kobus (L'Amico Fritz) (1891); Giuseppe Pacini as Conte Douglas (Guglielmo Ratcliff) (1895); Fernando De Lucia as Osaka (Le Maschere) (1898); Celestina Boninsegna as Rosaura (Le Mschere) (1901); Ferruccio Corradetti as Tartaglia (Le Maschere) (1901); Hipólito Lázaro as Marat (Il Piccolo Marat) (1921)
SYMPOSIUM 1379 TT: 79:33

Music of Tosti, Toselli, Di Capua, Fusco,
Padilla, Cottrau, Di Chiara, Mario, Lecuona, De Curtis, Lara, Bixio, Gastaldon, Velazquez, Zamecnik, Leoncavallo, De Curtis, Freire, Herbert, d'Hardelot, and Rascel
Mario Lanza, tenor; various orch/cond.
RCA RED SEAL 88697 57389 TT: 66:36

"Puccini Rediscovered" is a fascinating CD of the work of Puccini scholar Michael Kaye who has done intensive research into original scores and later editions of familiar works. This disk features the "original versions" of music from six Puccini operas plus a recently discovered duet Puccini wrote for Edgar. Of considerable interest is Puccini's original version of the death scene from Madama Butterfly (which the composer wisely changed). We also have the original version of "Sola, perduta, abbandonata" from Manon Lescaut (also wisely changed by Puccini). Domingo remains one of the wonders of the musical world, but he isn't heard very much on this recording — less than 20 minutes total including his four lines in La Fanciulla del West. It is unfortunate he is paired with Violeta Urmana who is, to put it kindly, uneven her harsh sounds do not suit Puccini. The Vienna Philharmonic is outstanding as is conductor Alberto Veronesi, a specialist in Puccini. An intriguing, if flawed, CD!

Byrn Terfel's latest CD is just about as perfect as it gets. Chris Hazell made all of these tasteful lush arrangements of these English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish folksongs. Terfel is in spectacular voice in these mostly intimate songs. He is joined briefly by soprano Kate Royal in Scarlboro Fair, a most pleasant interlude, but pop singer Ronan Keating's contribution to Danny Boy adds little to this disk. Apparently it was added as an afterthought: it was recorded in May 2008; everything else was recorded the previous December. Engineering could not be bettered, and complete texts are provided. Don't miss this one!

Tenor Wolfgang Windgassen (1914-1974) was a leading Wagnerian tenor of his era appearing often at Bayreuth where he made is debut in 1951 in Parsifal in the reopening of the Bayreuth Festival. He sang in all of the major opera houses to great acclaim. Several of his live recordings of The Ring from Bayreuth are available, and he appeared in the historic Solti Ring recording in the early '60s. Windgassen was a bit beyond his prime at the time, but still the best choice available. Several of his live recordings of The Ring are available as recordings, and he appeared in the historic Solti recording of The Ring in the early '60s. He was a bit beyond his prime at the time, but still was the best choice available. Preiser's CD contains recordings made fro nm 1950 to 1955, during the tenor's best years. Accompaniments are conducted by Ferdinand Leitner, Artur Rother, Leopold Ludwig and Robgert Heger. As usual, Preiser's transfers are excellent. These are valuable additions to the catalog.

Symposium's CD will be of great interest to collectors. This is a series devoted to "creator records," recordings by artists who sang premiere performances, this one devoted to Puccini and Mascagni. Recordings date from 1902 to 1920. None of the recordings were made at the time of the premieres, Of course audio quality is restricted; all of these are acoustic recordings, including two from primitive cylinders made backstage at the Met. CD notes include information on all of the artists and relatively complete information about the recordings. This is a worthy series, identified as Volume I. I look forward to future issues in the series.

Marion Lana was at the height of his fame in 1949-1952 when these recordings were made. His remarkably vibrant voice is effective in this Serenata collection that features primarily pop arrangements of Neapolitan songs. The studio orchestras are conducted by Ray Sinatra and Constantine Callinicos .Lanza's fans will welcome inclusion of four tracks never before issued. The mono sound is excellent for its time.

R.E.B. (December 2009)