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It was released sixty years ago this month, and yet the classic pairing of Maria Callas and Tito Gobbi, with supporting roles taken by Giuseppe di Stefano and Nicola Zaccaria, recorded in the late summer of 1955 in Milan under the baton of Tullio Serafin remains perhaps the definitive Rigoletto. This fabulous new XR-remastered transfer by Andrew Rose breathes new life into a much-loved classic, rendering it once again absolutely unmissable.
“That one recording should continue to hold sway over many other attractive comers after so long is simply a tribute to Callas, Gobbi, Serafin and Walter Legge. Whatever the merits of its successors, and they are many, no Rigoletto has surpassed Gobbi in tonal variety, line, projection of character and understanding of what Rigoletto is about; no Gilda has come anywhere near Callas in meaningful phrasing – listen to ‘Caro nome’ or ‘Tutte le feste’ on any other set if you’re disbelieving – nor achieved such a careful differentiation of timbre before and after her seduction; no conductor matches Serafin in judging tempo and instrumental detail on a nicety; nor benefited from a chorus and orchestra bred in the tradition of La Scala; no producer has equalled Legge in recording voices rather than the space round them. And di Stefano? Well, he may not be so stylish a Duke as some others, but the ‘face’ he gives his singing, and the sheer physical presence he conveys, not to mention his forward diction, are also unique in this opera.” - Gramophone
Rigoletto - Tito Gobbi
Gilda - Maria Callas
Tullio Serafin, conductor
Chorus and Orchestra of La Scala, Milan
Studio recording, 1955
PACO131 (1hr 57:57 - 2CD)
In the spring of 1945 Sir Thomas Beecham was in the United States conducting a short series of concerts with the Rochester Orchestra in New York City. At this time of momentous world events, a shake-up was underway in the world of American radio, as the forcibly-split NBC Blue Network gradually morphed into ABC, the American Broadcasting Company.
It was during this transitory months that the nascent ABC engaged Sir Thomas to conduct a series of four hour-long Saturday afternoon concerts, with the somewhat mysterious "Blue Network Symphony Orchestra". Each contained one longer work - a shorter symphony or, in this case, Elgars's Serenade for Strings - plus three or four shorter works, introduced by Milton Cross.
These recently rediscovered recordings of those broadcasts are being carefully and lovingly restored and remastered for a series of four releases at Pristine by Andrew Rose. This is the first, and it includes the radio première of several excerpts from a ballet Beecham had developed, "The Great Elopement", using music from Handel's operas Rodrigo, Serse, Ariodante and Il pastor fido which Beecham would also work into a suite entitled Love In Bath.
NICOLAI Overture to The Merry Wives of Windsor
ELGAR Serenade For Strings
HANDEL-BEECHAM The Great Elopement
DELIUS The Walk to the Paradise Garden
J. STRAUSS II Voices of Spring Waltz
Sir Thomas Beecham, conductor
Blue Network Symphony Orchestra
Live broadcast recording, 1945
PASC461 (54:43 - 1CD)
Two fabulous live broadcast recordings are presented here for the first time. Michael Tippett's Symphony No. 2 was premièred in London in January 1958 and broadcast live to the nation. Despite a false start which drove a wedge between the angry composer and the conductor Sir Adrian Boult, the performance itself was far more successful than the historic record suggests. Presented here in superb clarity with an XR remastered transfer by Andrew Rose it deserves a complete reevaluation, moreso following technical fixes that were until recently impossible to achieve.
In December 1956 Sir Arthur Bliss stepped into the BBC studios to record a series of shorter pieces as conductor, interspersed with short conversations about his works. This fascinating broadcast with the BBC Concert Orchestra and featuring violin virtuoso Alfredo Campoli has, like the Tippett, never been issued before - and like that recording is offered in superlative sound quality from highest quality transfers.
TIPPETT Symphony No. 2 (world première)
BLISS March: Welcome The Queen
BLISS March from 'Things to Come'
BLISS Checkmate (excerpts)
BLISS Theme and Cadenza for violin and orchestra
BLISS Overture: Edinburgh
Sir Adrian Boult, conductor
BBC Symphony Orchestra
Sir Arthur Bliss, conductor
Alfredo Campoli, violin
BBC Concert Orchestra
Live concert and studio recordings, 1956 & 1958
PASC460 (77:49 - 1CD)
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