Notes and Editorial Reviews
I greeted this set with only modified rapture when it first appeared. Listening to it again in conjunction with the Bonynge/Teldec version [that was recorded later], I found I preferred it by an appreciable margin to that new[er] account not least because it is so much more immediately recorded than its successor. Whereas on Teldec the singers sometimes seem some distance away, in an over-reverberant ambience, here they are very present (occasionally too much, as when you can catch Gruberova's breathing) and in consequence the piece sounds more theatrical and exciting, helped by Rescigno's conducting, which I underrated in 1984: his pacing of the opera is just that bit more convincing than Bonynge's, his orchestra a shade more alert.
But what really tells in EMI's favour is the singing. Refined and well-tailored as is Gruberova's performance on the new set, in 1983 she was in more refulgent voice and, more important, she then sang with a freshness and spontaneity missing in the more recent recording. You need only compare ''Regnava nel silenzio'' in both to hear what I mean: now the rubato and the leaning into notes sound a shade contrived; in 1983 they are perfectly natural. That also goes for her accounts of the Mad scene. It's as if growing familiarity with, and success in, the role has made her self-conscious, more the daring prima donna than the poor Lucy of this earlier interpretation. The change may be slight but, to my way of hearing, it's crucial.
Where opinions may differ on that point, there can surely be no doubt that Kraus is preferable to Shicoff as Edgardo (Bonynge). I thought the latter's delivery too tearful, a fault avoided by Kraus, who also has a more significant way with the text. Master of the Donizetti style, one or two bulges in his phrasing apart, he sings the difficult role with affecting expression and inborn command. Good as is Agache (Bonynge) as Enrico, Bruson is better, his performance, the epitome of vengeful authority, is sung with that burnished baritone for which he is noted.
-- Alan Blyth, Gramophone [3/1993]
Works on This Recording
Lucia di Lammermoor by Gaetano Donizetti
Alfredo Kraus (Tenor),
Robert Lloyd (Bass),
Renato Bruson (Baritone),
Kathleen Kuhlmann (Soprano),
Bruno Lazzaretti (Tenor),
Edita Gruberova (Soprano),
Bonaventure Bottone (Tenor)
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,
Ambrosian Opera Chorus
Written: 1835; Italy
Date of Recording: 05/1983
Venue: Abbey Road Studios, London
Length: 147 Minutes 57 Secs.
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