Notes and Editorial Reviews
A feast of great Verdi singing, dating from the dawn of recording in 1903 (Tamagno - Verdi’s first Otello) to the 1960s (Pavarotti’s first disc for Decca). Great Verdi conducting, too, from Fricsay (his live Requiem complete) and Markevitch. Fittingly for Deutsche Grammophon, the final CD is devoted to Verdi sung in German. Following the critical and commercial success of Deutsche Grammophon’s “Great Wagner Singers” box for Wagner Year (479 1241), here is an even bigger box – which could equally well have been called “Great Verdi Singers” – for Verdi Year, also in 2013 (the 200th anniversary of Verdi’s birth falls on 10 October). Many of the greatest Verdi singers of all time appear in the set, starting with Francesco Tamagno (1850-1905), the Otello at the 1887 premiere – in remarkably listenable sound deriving from almost-forgotten original matrices rediscovered some years ago in Deutsche Grammophon’s Hanover tape archive – through Caruso, Welitsch, Tebaldi, del Monaco and many other stars, to Luciano Pavarotti, part of whose very first 45-rpm EP disc, made for Decca in 1964, is included here.
The selections have been organized alphabetically by the names of the operas. The set also includes – complete - Ferenc Fricsay’s legendary 1960 live recording of Verdi’s Requiem, coupled with the Four Sacred Pieces, as well as preludes, overtures and ballet music conducted by Fricsay and Igor Markevitch, two of the best Verdi conductors of the post-Toscanini era.
Deutsche Grammophon, being a German company, in its early years normally recorded Verdi in the German vernacular, because that was how Verdi was then performed in German opera houses. The results of some of those sessions, often with famous artists – Hans Hotter, Maria Cebotari, Lauritz Melchior, Heinrich Schlusnus, Kim Borg! – are included on the final CD and should be new to many Verdi connoisseurs. The icing on the cake: exhaustive liner notes provided by Verdi expert Richard Osborne, who has managed to document nearly every singer featured on these 7 CDs. They are guaranteed to stimulate curiosity and further listening.