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Classic Recitals - Robert Merrill - Verdi, Etc / Downes


Release Date: 04/13/2004 
Label:  Decca   Catalog #: 4753962   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Giuseppe VerdiUmberto GiordanoRuggero Leoncavallo
Performer:  Robert Merrill
Conductor:  Edward Downes
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 40 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

This impressive and successful operatic baritone recital is much helped by the excellence of the recording, both mono and stereo, and by the alert, resourceful and imaginative accompanying by Edward Downes and the New Symphony Orchestra of London. I have never heard Mr. Merrill in the flesh (a regret), but a glance at THE GRAMOPHONE Classical Record Catalogue will show how wide and valuable has been his contribution to the gramophone. I think I first fell for the beautiful quality of singing and the pleasing style of it in that old, now deleted, set of Pagliacci where he sang Silvio to Victoria de los Angeles's Nedda—in the duet for the guilty lovers. But again and again he has turned in performances which if not obtrusive or even specially Read more commanding always had good qualities vocally. But he has not always struck me as a very subtle vocal actor—put in the shade in this respect by Gobbi, rather unfairly. On the stage the impression may be quite different. But as a leading singing baritone he has much to endear him to anyone with an ear for a finely handled and intrinsically beautiful voice. Most of the recital is Verdi—with two snatches from Don Carlos which rather overlap. The non-Verdian examples do not show him quite at his best: there is the all important precision of intonation (often wanting) but not much pressure of emotion in the Prologue to Pagliacci, and Gerard's aria (a less memorable piece somehow than it often seems while actually in performance) is not gripping. But in the long scene where, after "Solenne in quest'ora" the baritone villain of Forza (another sort of Carlos) rummages through Alvaro's luggage, finds Leonora's portrait, tumbles to the identity of the friend he has made on the battlefield and rejoices that the 'dying' man will after all recover to endure his vengeance is from end to end taken with great dramatic excitement. The long recitative, "Urna fatale" and the allegro of hatred after the doctor has come in with the good tidings are carried through with a splendid assumption of what the situation requires, good projection of sound—significance! Iago's Credo is only slightly less good because a little more obvious in its inflections, but it too is amply powered and well scaled. "Eni tu" is good in the initial reproach: but Mr. Merrill like many another Renato finds the rather lachrymose pendant "0 dolcezze. . . etc" difficult to switch into (I have never thought it one of Verdi's happy contrasts). He doesn't let it drag, but it still seeems rather laboured. On the other hand he brings a strong rhythmical sense to "II balen" and with Mr. Downes to support dips into the big swell most convincingly, moving steadily forward instead of slowing up (fatal defect in so many assaults on the famous aria). The apostrophe to Don Carlos by Rodrigo and the latter's death are pretty good samples of modern bel canto. More variety of tone, more spinning of the line, an even smoother legato? One can imagine such. But I am more than glad to settle for such capable and well-adjusted singing. A good recital.

-- Gramophone [5/1964]
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Works on This Recording

1.
Otello: Credo in un Dio crudel by Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Robert Merrill (Baritone)
Conductor:  Edward Downes
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1887; Italy 
Date of Recording: 09/1963 
Venue:  Walthamstow Hall, London, England 
Language: Italian 
2.
Un ballo in maschera: Eri tu che m'acchiave quell' anima by Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Robert Merrill (Baritone)
Conductor:  Edward Downes
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1859; Italy 
Date of Recording: 09/1963 
Venue:  Walthamstow Hall, London, England 
Language: Italian 
3.
Il trovatore: Il balen del suo sorriso by Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Robert Merrill (Baritone)
Conductor:  Edward Downes
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1853; Italy 
Date of Recording: 09/1963 
Venue:  Walthamstow Hall, London, England 
Language: Italian 
4.
La forza del destino: Urna fatale del mio destino by Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Robert Merrill (Baritone)
Conductor:  Edward Downes
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1862/1869; Italy 
Date of Recording: 09/1963 
Venue:  Walthamstow Hall, London, England 
Language: Italian 
5.
Don Carlos: Per me giunto è il dì supremo by Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Robert Merrill (Baritone)
Conductor:  Edward Downes
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1867/1884; Italy 
Date of Recording: 09/1963 
Venue:  Walthamstow Hall, London, England 
Language: Italian 
Notes: This selection is preceded by "Felice ancor io son." 
6.
Don Carlos: O Carlo, ascolta by Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Robert Merrill (Baritone)
Conductor:  Edward Downes
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Date of Recording: 09/1963 
Venue:  Walthamstow Hall, London, England 
Language: Italian 
7.
Andrea Chénier: Nemico della patria by Umberto Giordano
Performer:  Robert Merrill (Baritone)
Conductor:  Edward Downes
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1896; Italy 
Date of Recording: 09/1963 
Venue:  Walthamstow Hall, London, England 
Language: Italian 
8.
I Pagliacci: Sì può? [Prologue] by Ruggero Leoncavallo
Performer:  Robert Merrill (Baritone)
Conductor:  Edward Downes
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1892; Italy 
Date of Recording: 09/1963 
Venue:  Walthamstow Hall, London, England 
Language: Italian 

Sound Samples

Otello / Act 1: "Vanne! la tua meta già vedo" - "Credo in un Dio crudel"
Un ballo in maschera / Act 3: "Alzati; là tuo figlio" - "Eri tu che macchiavi quell' anima"
Il Trovatore / Act 2: "Il balen del suo sorriso"
La forza del destino / Act 3: Morir! Tremenda cosa! ... Urna fatale
Pagliacci / Prologue: "Si può? Signore! Signori!"
Don Carlo / Act 4: Felice ancor io son ...Per me giunto
Don Carlo / Act 4: "O Carlo, ascolta"
Andrea Chénier / Act 3: Nemico della Patria? ... Traditore! ... La coscienza

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