Saturday, December 25, 2010


Yesterday afternoon, my traditional Act I and Act II of La Boheme - the cheery half of the opera - followed by the first CD of the Christmas Oratorio (Rilling). This morning, first CD of Messiah (Davis I, from some years back).

My first two choices of Boheme recording were at work (Gigli, Albanese and Beecham/Bjoerling, de los Angeles), and I put on Toscanini without pulling out the other sets on my shelves, or I might have thrown on the Bjoerling/Sayao bootleg from the late 1940s. I hadn't heard the Toscanini in years, and you know - damn, it's good. Yeah, I do wish Peerce had a beautiful, rather than serviceable, voice, but he sure did know what to do musically, and of course Albanese is wonderful. Toscanini is brisk, theatrical, passionate, and makes Beecham sound slack. The occasion can't be beat: it was the 50th anniversary of the opera's premier, which Toscanini also conducted. You can hear him weeping during Mimi's death scene.

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