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Notes and Editorial Reviews
If ever there was a case for armchair opera— and on CD at that—it is Rossini's Guglielmo Tell. The very limitations which have made it, so far, a non-repertory work, give space for the imagination to redress the balance: the short, Rousseauesque scenes of life by Lake Lucerne, the distant entrances and exits of shepherds and huntsmen, the leisurely but perfectly balanced side-vignettes of fisherman, hunter, child.
This recording is the only one in which the entire opera is available in this form; and thanks to the clarity and liveliness of the recording itself and, above all, the shrewd casting, it creates a vivid charivari of fathers, sons, lovers and patriots, all played out against some of Rossini's most delicately painted
pastoral cameos. Riccardo Chailly keeps up the undercurrent of tension between private love and public loyalty, as well as working hard the rustic jollity of the score. Tell himself could hardly have a better advocate than Sherrill Milnes, who succeeds in portraying the moral rectitude of a man who casts himself in the role of his brother's keeper, while managing to glow with true ardour and integrity in the cause for which he is fighting.
Arnoldo and Matilde, too, are cleverly cast. Pavarotti contains the coarse, direct impulsiveness of Arnoldo's shepherd stock with the tenderness of love, in his characteristic charcoal cantabile and, indeed, the numbness of his remorse. Even in his reflective Act 4 aria, "0 muto asil" there is a rough, peasant edge gritting the vocal line which is both entirely truthful and nicely propulsive. Freni, singing opposite him as the forbidden Princess Matilde, phrases with aristocratic poise, folding into every fragment of embryonic bel canto the fragile ardour of a young girl's love. The vocal chemistry between them in their Act 2 declaration of love is a lively incarnation of their respective roles.
A similarly interesting patterning of vocal timbres is produced by the casting of Elizabeth Connell as Edwige, Tell's wife, and of Della Jones as Jemmy, their son. Their last act trio with Matilde is matched by the contrasting colours of the basses of Ghiaurov, Tomlinson and Van Allan: their roles may be small, but their characters are vividly stamped on what is an excellent ensemble performance.
-- Gramophone [2/1987]
reviewing the original CD release of this title, Decca 417154
Works on This Recording
Guillaume Tell by Gioachino Rossini
Piero de Palma (Tenor),
Mirella Freni (Soprano),
Sherrill Milnes (Baritone),
Luciano Pavarotti (Tenor),
Elizabeth Connell (Soprano),
Ferruccio Mazzoli (Bass),
Nicolai Ghiaurov (Baritone),
Della Jones (Mezzo Soprano),
John Tomlinson (Bass),
Richard Van Allan (Bass),
John Noble (Tenor)
Ambrosian Opera Chorus,
National Philharmonic Orchestra
Written: 1829; Italy
Average Customer Review: ( 3 Customer Reviews )
Stellar cast July 4, 2014
By Weston Williams (Chicago, IL) See All My Reviews
"This is a great recording of a cast that doesn't get any better. Highly recommended."
Excellent Recording in Every Respect September 7, 2013
By Henry S. (Springfield, VA) See All My Reviews
"William Tell, Rossini's last opera, receives a powerful, 'pedal to the metal' interpretation in this wonderful 1980 Decca Legendary Recordings set (4 CD's). Featuring an unbeatable cast (Sherril Milnes, Luciano Pavarotti, Mirella Freni, and Nicolai Ghiaurov, among others) and very strong orchestral backing from the National Philharmonic Orchestra, the saga of William Tell and nascent Swiss nationalism emerges with clarity and conviction. William Tell sets a decidedly different tone compared to Rossini's great comic operas; this one is dramatic, serious, and highly effective. An additional attraction is the high quality of the CD booklet notes, which discuss the genesis of the libretto and Rossini's development of the final operatic product. I think you will really enjoy hearing these great singers, who were in their prime and at the top of their game, as you will immediately sense. Finally, a word about Riccardo Chailly's masterful handling of the orchestra is in order. Not only does the orchestra provide the firmest foundation behind the singers, but takes off on joyous symphonic excursions during Rossini's several orchestral interludes, which add sparkle and spice to this already legendary recording. Definitely recommended."
A great old favourite May 29, 2012
By Robert Lethbridge (Combermere, ON) See All My Reviews
"We first purchased this opera in 1984 in "LP" format and copied it to Cassette format, which has served well over the years a great opera for a long car trip, but our last few cars have not had a cassette deck, but now with the new CD format we can now enjoy it everywhere. We were having difficulty locating it till we discovered "ArkivMusic" which will become a great source for us. "