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Subject: Re: Cavalleria recording suggestions
From: Niel Rishoi <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Niel Rishoi <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Wed, 30 Mar 2005 19:29:43 -0500
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I second Jon's words on the CAVALLERIA recordings, esp. the Von Karajan,
which has always been my favorite.  His account, hands down, is the most
beautiful, lush and compactly conducted version I've heard. He somehow
manages to make this verismo piece sound, conversely, intensely emotional,
disciplined, texturally clean and heartrending all at once.  The Intermezzo
sounds altogether like it has no history; there has never been, in my
experience, anything like it.  Karajan's reading of this is the most
beguiling, spellbindingly eloquent, throbbingly emotional, and bittersweet
of all on record.  When the orchestra goes into that famous crescendo, it
always catches me off guard, going right to the heart.   As for the singers,
this may be some of their best recorded work.  Bergonzi has never been so
thrillingly at ease, exciting and yet so spontaneously natural. He never
strains, no matter how heated the temperature may get, and retains classical
singing values at all points.  Cossotto is in her plushest-voiced prime,
with a Ponsellian richness; the molten legato, attention to note-values and
the sensitive musicality are matchless.  She covers the whole gamut of
emotions with her singing, utilizing both breathtakingly placed half-tones
and rock-solid firmness on high; in particular listen to the way she comes
in at "Ineggiammo," the poise, control and soft shine of her tone is of a
golden-age standard. She's not afraid, too, to be coarse and spitfire at
"Bada! A te la mala pasqua!"  She's a red-blooded, masochistic,
grandiloquent (in the right way), yet impeccably sung Santuzza of the
highest order. Guelfi is a powerhouse, whose huge voice and intense manner
absolutely embodies the wronged husband's wounded pride.

This recording, to me, is the ultimate example of how verismo can gain its
power and drama while still utilizing a thoroughly musical, carefully
laid-out approach. I think Mascagni would have been awestruck at how
beautiful his score can sound, and still carrying its full impact.

Niel Rishoi

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