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Subject: Re: Lucia recordings
From: Mike Begley <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Mike Begley <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Thu, 29 Oct 1998 17:12:20 -0500
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There were a couple of mentions some months ago, but a couple of
weeks ago I bought the set while in Canada and have been meaning to
post about it ever since.

The bottom line - Run, do not walk, to your nearest record dealer
and grab it.  This is the best commercial opera recording I have
heard in a LONG time.

Pride of place must go to Sir Charles Mackerras.  He prepared the
edition and conducts the hell out of it.  It brought back to mind an
old story about Toscanini being asked about conducting Lucia - he
said something to the effect that "I did, and I made it sound like
great music".  So does Sir Charles.

The conducting has enormous rythmic snap, a certain relationship of
tempi where (almost) all the episodes lead, seemingly inevitably,
into the next.  He plays the whole score!  Everything is in the
original key - but because he is using original instruments, the
tuning is at A=430.  And damn!  Donizetti knew what he was doing!
The parts seem to sit perfectly in the singers' voices.  The whole
production demonstrates what has been talked about a great deal
lately on the list - the transparency of texture in the instruments
of the period.  The strings play out, with passion, but never drown
out the singers.  I think it's more than good engineering -
everything just sounds "right", not pumped up or antenuated.  When
the (natural) horns assert themselves, they cut through the
orchestral texture without decimating it.  And the variety of colors
Mackerras pulls out of the band is truly amazing.

The singers are all up to the job.  Rost is, for me, the perfect
Lucia voice - a healthy lyric, with coloratura facility.  If she
lacks the personality of a Callas, or the hairraising coloratura of
a Sutherland, she substitutes a beautiful, vulnerabale, young voice
with a much richer color than the Pons school of Lucias.  Bruce Ford
is outstanding.  I didn't notice on first listening, but when I
followed the score - mio dio!  What phrases he sings!  His breath
control is phenomenal, taking easily in one breath what other tenors
need two or three breaths for - and it's expressive as can be.  If
he doesn't quite have the ultimate honeyed richness of the young
Pavarotti or the elegance of Alfredo Kraus, he combines goodly
quantities of the best of those two gentlemen.  Outstanding!

By the way, Mackerras banishes final high notes (calling them
anacronistic; surely correctly), but allows many other
ornamentations and embellishments.  His essay on the reasons why is
very convincng.  Also, a wooden flute, not glass harmonica, is used
for the Mad Scene.  Sir Charles justifies that decision as well.

Anthony Michaels-Moore and Alistair Miles sing very well indeed -
not quite measuring up to Bastianini and Ghiaurov, but still quite
accomplished and enjoyable.  The Arturo is disappointing, but Ryland
Davies' long experience shows all to the good as Normanno.

I found this recording, on the whole, as fine a Lucia as I have ever
heard.  And, dare I admit it?  If being banished to the proverbial
desert island, I might (mind, I say might!) take this in preference
to the Berlin Lucia.  "nuff said.

Now, Maestro Mackerras, may we have your take on Norma and I
Puritani?

Hope this helps.  And, for the record, I have no relationship with
Sony Classical, Maestro Mackerras or any of the singers involved.

Enjoy!

Regards,
Mike

[log in to unmask]

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Discussion of opera and related issues
> [mailto:[log in to unmask]]On Behalf Of Terri Stuart
> Sent: Thursday, October 29, 1998 1:24 PM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Lucia recordings
>
>
> Has there been a review posted on the "List" on the new
> Sony Lucia with
> MacKerras conducting the Hanover Band; Andrea Rost, Bruce
> Ford, Anthony
> Michaels-Moore, Alistair Miles?
>
> I'm curious and don't want to make another $30.00 mistake!
>
> Thanks
> Terri
> [log in to unmask]
>

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