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Subject: Re: Cetra CD reissues. Some more.
From: albert innaurato <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:albert innaurato <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sun, 9 Jul 2017 20:36:51 -0500
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It's clear to me, and maybe to me alone, that Taddei was the greatest
Italian baritone of that group of impressive singers in that range that
emerged in Italy during and after WWll. (Like several others he had begun,
as a teenager, before the war). It is a very wide-ranging, gorgeous voice,
with an effortless outpouring available to him, and a variety of colors in
the tone. In his best years (certainly into the 1960's) he has no serious
difficulties with the top, has a bass baritone's resonance in the lower
range when required and a thunderous forte. His words are eloquently and
beautifully uttered and he never twists the vowel to achieve the sound (as
Gobbi does usually). Despite a bizarre utterance above he has no serious
intonational difficulties, but Gobbi often sings under the pitch and has a
strong tendency to flat, documented on studio and live recordings
consistently, and perfectly evident when one heard him live.

Taddei was a singer of his time: in his spectacular recording of Carlo
Quinto (a very good Cetra offering despite the cuts standard at the time),
although he has a fine, well-bound legato, no trouble with some high
writing, thunderous declamation when called for, and a seductive tone as
well, he does not try the decorations of or display the elegant bravura of
Battistini (the complete recordings are available on Marston, and on the
best of the transfers it sounds like he is standing in the room.)

On the other hand, he does have an elegance of manner and a constant
emission of beautiful tone. It's a better account of the role on a complete
record than Bastianini, who sounds gorgeous but hasn't the same skill or
imagination, Warren, who has splendor of tone but tends toward a certain
unsteadiness, Sereni, who, well-intentioned as he was, is an also-ran or
Bruson, hustled through by Muti and somewhat past his best, though with a
grasp of the role similar to Taddei's but a less imposing sound. I heard
MacNeil in his prime (twice in 1962, once in '65) and that was very
impressive, a little more blustery, but really tremendous, but he didn't
make an easily accessible recording (in-house tapes with queenly commentary
have circulated).

In Taddei's Iago (on a strong Cetra Otello) he sings (and tunes) the
murderous brindisi superbly, managing the chromatic writing, the descending
chromatic scales and getting close to the trills better than anybody else
on a recording. Gobbi is a nightmare of approximation there (look at the
orchestral score starting at 20 bars after letter EE). In the
high-lying "era la notte" he floats the notes and observes Verdi's many
very soft markings, including dolcissimo (very sweet) absolutely in tune
with a timbre that is entirely insinuating and voluptuous.

Of the two commercial Scarpias, the better is surely what was released on
Columbia in USA, where he is spectacular, Stella is very good and Serafin
does an excellent job. There is Poggi but we won't think of him. In the
first Karajan recording, he's very good but his tone is somewhat spread and
there are some approximately pitched higher notes.

He was a singer with an immense endowment, splendor of tone and a lively
interpretive imagination. He refused to audition for Bing and thus didn't
sing at the Met until the end of his career. Gobbi was more familiar and
better promoted by a big recording company. I am not going to dismiss him,
he was a very imaginative, colorful performer but no yardstick for
greatness simply in singing. His best recordings are the very first, where
his tone is attractive and he doesn't artificially weight his voice.
Subsequently, he had two modes, the bark which could ring out impressively,
and then a bizarre way of sliding into a gummy croon toward the top,
twisting the vowels (as I mentioned) and unable to sing consistently in
tune (I don't care what somewhat else says, those with ears can hear.) He
did a great deal with a compromised technique and a voice that was probably
more limited in range and somewhat smaller than he wanted. The very best I
ever saw him was in a master class, where confronted by a soprano who
wanted to sing "Un bel di" but hadn't a clue how to even start, HE sang it
all and reduced everybody present to sobs. That's a kind of magic for which
one can forgive a lot.

AI

On Sun, Jul 9, 2017 at 5:05 PM, Maxwell Paley <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Re: the other thread on vocal registers and passagio, it always surprised
> me that, bring such a great singer otherwise, Gobbi seemed to have such a
> difficult time transitioning into head voice for those notes above E. Once
> in a while it would click into place and he'd get a good high note. Those
> top notes were clearly in the voice but somehow he had a very hard time
> getting them out well.
>
> I think this is the reason many people praise his artistry but deprecate
> his voice. I personally think that, other than this one problem, it was a
> really splendid voice with a wonderful solidity, bite and range of color.
>
> He even managed to work around the upper register issue quite
> successfully; I just think those top notes weren't what they should have
> been.
>
> Max Paley
>
> Sent from my iPhone
>
> > On Jul 9, 2017, at 13:50, Max D. Winter <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> >
> > Max Paley wrote:
> >
> > "With all great respect to Gobbi, Taddei is the sound I find myself
> always yearning for in a
> > Scarpia."
> >
> > Interesting you should say that.  I learned "Tosca" on the Karajan
> recording with Price and
> > Taddei when I was in Junior High School, long before I ever heard the
> Callas/Gobbi/De Sabata
> > recording.  Like you, I have always had Taddei in my ears for that role,
> great though Gobbi is.
> > Taddei is every bit as characterful as Gobbi, but he sings more
> beautifully throughout, with a
> > much better top than that yell Gobbi used on anything above E.  And
> Taddei never sounds
> > hectoring, while Gobbi sometimes does.  (I think most of you know what I
> mean by
> > "hectoring" in reference to Gobbi.)
> >
> > Of course, the Callas/De Sabata "Tosca" is one of the glories of the
> gramophone, and I would
> > put it first among all the choices.  But the Price/Karajan is a superb
> recording as well, not
> > least for Taddei's Scarpia (as well as the superb sound and imaginative
> production by John
> > Culshaw).
> >
> > MDW
> >
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