Saturday, December 27, 2008


  • La Boheme, Acts I and II. Toscanini/Peerce, Albanese, McKnight, Valentino. My traditional Christmas Eve music. The good transfer of my favorite Boheme (Gigli/Albanese, need I say more? The conductor is also splendid, among the best, but I can never remember his name.) is at work along with the Beecham, and I couldn't find the bad transfer of G/A, so it was back to the Toscanini. Peerce is servicable and correct, never quite inspired and not in a vocal class with Gigli or Bjoerling, the Marcello and Musetta are not better than okay, but Albanese is as touching as with Gigli, and the occasion - the 50th anniversary of the opera's premier, also under Toscanini - and greatness of the conducting make it worth a spin. For Italian-opera doubters, I suggest following along with the score sometime. I'd rather conduct an act of any Wagner opera than take this on, with its myriad orchestral details, metrical complexity, extended syncopations, and constantly shifting tempos. It's the most-performed opera in the repertory because it's a great, great masterpiece.
  • O Holy Night, a raft of YouTube performances on Tuesday. My favorites turned out to be the elegant and slightly understated Florez and Bjoering, singing magnificently in Swedish. Fleming is very good but I couldn't watch her because of the smirking. Also notable is Thill, singing in about 1932, and of course, Caruso. Yes, I do like my tenors.
  • Schmidt, Second Symphony, Jarvi/CSO, Chandos. Whew.


Robert F. Jones said...

Ah, Licia Albanese! Here she is at her 100th birthday party. Can Elliott Carter still sing high A-flats ??


Lisa Hirsch said...

100th? She has claimed 1913 as her birthdate forever; it seems that 1910 is more likely. I have never heard 1908 before. (Wikipedia says her debut was in 1934; a friend of a friend found information about a rectial debut in 1927.)