This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.
Notes and Editorial Reviews
...With the Aida some caveats have to be entered. In spite of the conductor's vital contribution, this set suffers both from an indifferent cast and a less successful recording and, in this case, the transfer to digital sound seems to have added an unwanted edge to voices and instruments. Even so, here is further evidence of Toscanini's complete understanding of a composer with whom he had worked and whom he understood better than any of his successors.
As I have already suggested, Aida is a more questionable proposition. All Toscanini's insights gleaned throughout a lifetime conducting the piece are there to create an unforgettable sense of dramatic intensity. Again, he seems to identify with the composer's aims and objects
in a way that may only be available to someone who was almost contemporary with Verdi. Yet we have in our day found in Serafin, Abbado and Muti conductors who have almost matched Toscanini's achievement in this piece and been blessed with better singers. But even they perhaps haven't achieved quite such a sense of dedication in the Consecration scene or conducted the Nile act with such a feeling for its evocation of emotional clashes on a hot summer evening by a timeless river's movement. Listen to the gentle beauty of the accompaniment to Aida's "La, tra foreste vergini", its perfect use of rubato and its lyrical impulse. Indeed the whole set is permeated with Toscanini's – and Verdi's – ability to conjure up exactly the right atmosphere for a scene.
Nelli carries neither quite the weight or tonal variety to do Aida justice, in spite of her undoubted sincerity of purpose (but see the review of the video on page 1966). The Amneris is simply inadequate. Valdengo, such a wonderful Falstaff and lago for Toscanini, doesn't quite carry the weight for Amonasro, though his fiery delivery of his Third Act imprecations count for much. Norman Scott's Ramfis is underpowered. Only Richard Tucker's fervent, youthful, heroic Radames has real distinction, though I don't even find him the equal of Bergonzi, Corelli or Domingo in more recent times. Yet nobody who loves this opera would want to be without Toscanini's revelations.
I have no space to dwell further on the sheer pleasures to be found in these sets. They are a repository of the very best in Verdi conducting, worthy of study by aspiring (or established) conductors. More important than that, they should be a source of revelation to a new generation of collectors who may have a dim and/or wrongheaded view of what Toscanini was about.
-- Gramophone [5/1990]
Works on This Recording
Aida by Giuseppe Verdi
Herva Nelli (Soprano),
Richard Tucker (Tenor),
Giuseppe Valdengo (Baritone),
Eva Gustavson (Mezzo Soprano)
NBC Symphony Chorus,
NBC Symphony Orchestra
Written: 1871; Italy
Date of Recording: 3/26, 4/2 1949
Venue: Studio 8-H
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