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Montserrat Caballe “Casta diva” Norma Orange 1974

January 25, 2010

Caballe gives definity to each note in the ornaments as at 0:18 and 0:30. Each note can be distinguished from the previous one; it is not merely a smere of sound-paint but a clearly articulated shape. Unfortunately, the space that this performance was given in does a disservice to that clarity and makes it appear more smudged than this crystalline sound actually is. At 1:19 there is a note which grows from this sort of ethereal sound into something which is very slightly more tangible and pure, though the line retains its dream-like quality. The attack (if you can even call it that when you are dealing with sounds this delicate) of the top note of the figure at 2:28 has a quality which I can only connect to a well-articulated note on the flute. 4:52 the sound drops to such a low volume, (while maintaing it’s immaculate quality) that it is almost literally unbelievable.

Glad to be listening with you.

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Ettore Bastianini – Core n’grato

January 25, 2010

This arrangement starts with this violin line that spirals upwards. It’s a little disorienting, but it makes for a good setup for the oboe solo that leads into Ettore’s entrance. This arrangement is really nice – the arranger puts nice decoration on the melody without crowding it. The choice of instrumentation is excellent as well. For example; there is a moment at 1:17 which becomes momentarily more empassioned. This is appropriately accompanied by brass in order to give it the force it needs. It’s a nice contrast to the subtlety of the other accompanying music, which acts as hand-carving in a wood trim around a door that the singer moves through as he sings. It is simply extra detail which does not at all destract from an excellent vocal performance.

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Cesare Siepi – Ella giammi m’amo-Don Carlo -1970

January 25, 2010

I like the line that starts at 1:10. And at 2:26, punctuated by those oboe grace notes. The music in 3:22 starts to build more momentum. It’s really nice because it culminates in an ascending line that starts around 3:39. The music drops out from under him at 3;46, then it begins again from nothing. Then there is this awesome little spiraling triplet cello figure that comes in at 3:55. A cello solo at 4:20 leads back into the music from 2:26. There’s a tiny little bit of violin tremelo at 5:33 that gives that line a momentary celestial quality. That effect creates a nice lightness. It’s a little transparent, like light coming through a tree-branch that is moving in the wind.  This creates a steep contrast to the lavishness of Siepi’s fully opaque sound.

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Roberto Alagna – Flower Song

January 22, 2010

Alagna seems to be flat in a lot of places here. Almost consistantly just a little bit flat. The note at 1:05 is excellent though. It is interesting how different singers make different parts of a single aria more important. That spot didn’t jump out at me in either of the previous performances, but here it did. Haha. For example, here the drama of 2:17 is totally dampened, whereas in Domingos performance (perhaps because of the conductor) that line really exploded. 3:15 is a little bit pushed.

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Carmen “Flower Song” – Placido Domingo, 1978

January 22, 2010

This voice has a sort of muffled quality to it. I don’t quite understand it, but its different somehow. It’s more apparent in the top. It doesn’t quite feel solid. It seems akin to standing on ice somehow. The notes slide in and out of each other. I’d hate to think that it is just the advance of the recording technology, but there seems to be a little more fire in this performance than in Bjorlings. Especially around 2:23. That didn’t jump out at me at all in Bjorlings, but here it definitely did. Also the drama of 3:32 is more emphasized here.

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Jussi Bjorling – Bizet – Flower Song

January 22, 2010

I like the music around 1:30 a lot. Those few descending figures from 1:30 to about 1:38 are nice. This aria doesn’t pack the power that I like. I’ll concede that 2:28 to to 2:38 is excellent music too. The pen-ultimate note around 2:58 is a little bit flat but that is forgivable.

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Jussi Björling & Robert Merrill – Pearl Fishers Duet

January 21, 2010

When Merrill comes in at 0:27 its like chocolate. Also, It doesn’t even matter if you are expecting it, or how many times you’ve heard it; 1:45 will give you chills. If it doesn’t, you’d better check your pulse. The contrast of Bjorling’s soaring quality and Merrill’s richness at 2:20 is excellent.

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