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Subject: The 1937 Salzburg Don Giovanni
From: James Camner <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:James Camner <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sun, 25 Feb 2018 14:20:59 -0800
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Various reissues of the 1937 Don Giovanni have long circulated and there is
no wonder why, the cast is mouth watering: - Ezio Pinza, Virgilio Lazzari,
Elisabeth Rethberg, Luise Helletsgruber, Dino Borgioli, led by Bruno
Walter.

But all the reissues I've heard were very poor in sound, seemingly murky
dupes of dupes of dupes and they all disappointed me, especially in
comparison to what has trickled out in snippets from various sources and in
comparison to the superb Andante release of the Salburg Nozze Di Figaro
from the same year.

By sheer chance by entering "Ezio Pinza" on my iTunes search I came across
an issue of the 1937 Don from an outfit called Andromeda. I don't know
where they got their source, perhaps from the Salzburg Archives, a European
radio Archive, or perhaps from another source. No matter..  At last the
sound is good enough and offers real presence so that this performance can
be savored. I believe it easily surpasses any other recording of Don
Giovannii, live or studio including the various Pinza performances from the
Met Opera.

Pinza as Don Giovanni in 1937 is in his most secure and splendid voice of
his various recordings with Walter and others from the Met in the 1940s.
(There are tantalizing glimpses of Pinza's early run at Don Giovanni with
Serafin and a cast including Ponselle and Schipa, but the sound is just too
poor to bear). In any case Pinza and Walter are an unbeatable combination
and Walter in Salzburg with his own Vienna Philharmonic whips the orchestra
into a frenzy that he does not duplicate with the inferior Met players, I
don't believe any other conductor on records has equaled him in this score.

Elisabeth Rethberg is in lovely voice, she's an excellent Donna Anna and
brings a silvery tonal quality and ease of coloratura that is thrilling (it
is, along with her Met Elsa and two Met recordings of Amelia in Simon
Boccanegra perhaps her best complete live recording). Luise Helletsgruber,
so fine on the Glyndebourne recordings is a first rate Donna Elvira,
Virgilio Lazzari is a classic buffo Leporello and Dino Borgioli is IMHO
perhaps the finest overall Don Ottavio in a complete performance on records
(though I imagine that Schipa was in a league of his own, if only that
maddeningly uneven source could be improved)

Make no mistake, even in improved sound, this is not a "first choice" Don
Giovanni because the primitive sound is still challenging for casual
listening but for those who are able to listen through and appreciate
historic recordings this one is special.

James Camner,

[apologies if this reissue has already been discussed, but this is the
first I heard it and I thought it was worth writing about and bringing it
to the attention to the list)

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