Notes and Editorial Reviews
Perhaps an alternate title for this disc could be EVERYTHING YOU'VE ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT "AVE MARIA" BUT WERE AFRAID TO ASK. Indeed, this compilation provides the listener with both historical and current renditions of this often-set, often-arranged sacred text. The performances range from Rosa Ponselle to Jerry Hadley, with each artist singing a different version of the same work.
For example, Placido Domingo, Rosa Ponselle, Leontyne Price, Jeanette MacDonald (sans Nelson Eddy), John McCormack, and Mario Lanza all sing the Bach-Gounod "Ave Maria," with very individual results. Two operatic "Ave Maria" settings make a nice addition to the disc. The heart wrenching "Ave Maria" from Verdi's 'Otello' is sung by three sopranos, all contributing excellent performances.
John McCormack's English-language version of Mascagni's "Ave Maria" from 'Cavalleria Rusticana' certainly highlights the famous Irish tenor's voice, but it is hard to make out the words due to the age of the original recording. And possibly the most unique track on this disc is Percy B. Kahn's "Ave Maria," made popular in its day by Enrico Caruso. It is a lovely piece, reminiscent of an Italian love song, and the Caruso sound shines through.