Notes and Editorial Reviews
Alexander Kipnis' Opera Arias & Songs is one of the most beautiful compilations of vocal recordings ever assembled on one disc. That all but one of the 21 recordings comes from the 1920s may dismay some listeners, but as in the rest of Sony's Masterworks Heritage series, the sound is as clear and clean as humanly possible and could be an impediment only to the most aurally challenged listeners. That the singer is a bass may dismay other listeners, who believe that male vocal beauty can come from tenors and the occasional baritone, but not from a bass. But the vocal beauty of Kipnis' voice, the sheer cream and velvet tone of his voice, is the equal of the best tenors and baritones, and only the most intolerant listener would be dissuaded.
Any track randomly chosen is amazing and moving, and listeners should try his Der Lindenbaum of Schubert: heartrending and so natural that it sounds like a folk song. Or his Mondnacht of Schumann: as light and graceful as the phenomena it describes. His arias from Handel are robust and virile, but supple and flexible; his Feldeinsamkeit by Brahms is sweetly lyrical with a seamless legato; his Doppelgänger by Schubert is maybe the scariest performance of the song ever recorded. Then try his opera arias: his maniacally cackling Faust arias, his regal Wagner arias, and the exquisite cantilena of his Sarastro's aria from Die Zauberflöte. One of the all-time great bass recitals.
-- James Leonard, AllMusic.com