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La Scena Musicale - Vol. 3, No. 4 December-January 1997-8
Suggestions des cadeaux pour la saison des fêtes / Gift Ideas for the Holiday Season
The Authentic Voice of Caruso
Grammofono 2000 (GM 78601)

Enrico Caruso was the greatest tenor of this century. This disc is definitely the best re-mastering of the golden voice of Caruso, making the CD sound like a 1950s recording. It is an ideal gift for any fan of the voice. WKC

The Art of Singing: Golden Voices of the Century (NVC Arts' Video/ Warner)

This is the ideal gift for opera fans, an essential film collection of 27 of the century's greatest artists from Caruso and Chaliapin to Olivero and Tebaldi. A MUST!!!

Pour le plus fanatique des mélomanes, le vidéo produit par NVC Arts intitulé The Art of Singing: Golden Voices of the Century .On y trouve 27 des plus grands chanteurs de ce siècle, de Caruso et Chaliapin à Olivero et Tebaldi. UN MUST!!!! Richard Turp

Musique &Opéra autour du monde / Music &Opera around the World
Editions le fil d'Ariane (Distribution LIBER T)

Music &Opera around the World 97/98 lists 10,000 major concerts and operas around the world, and contains a calendar sorted by half-month and city. Particularly useful is the listing of appearances by artists. While Canadian listings are not very complete, the listing is a great resource for the musical tourist. WKC

Italian for the Opera
by Robert Stuart Thomson.
Goodwin Books (Vancouver, 1992). 150 pp.

This interesting little book would make an excellent gift for all opera lovers. Thomson's greatest merit is to insist that librettos matter: in opera, words, far from being, merely props for the deployment of music and voice, play an integral role in creating the emotional experience that is at the heart of the spectacle. His approach to operatic Italian is ingenious and useful, though at times oversimplification leads to a lack of precision. This is a lively and engaging starter, interspersed with delightful anecdotes which are in themselves worth the price of the book. Eugenio Bolongaro

Italian for the Opera, de Robert Stuart Thomson. Vancouver: Goodwin Books, 1992. (Texte anglaise) 150pp. $ 12.95.

Ce petit livre intéressant est un cadeau idéal pour tous les ami(e)s de l'opéra. Le plus grand mérite du travail de Thomson est d'insister sur le fait que les libretti comptent: le texte d'un opéra loin d'être simplement accessoire au déploiement de la musique et de la voix, apporte une contribution fondamentale au drame, en évoquant et précisant le contenu émotif qui est à la base du spectacle. Le précis de l'italien de l'opéra que nous donne Thomson est intelligent et utile, même si parfois le désir de trop simplifier amène à un manque de précision (à ce que je sache, le conditionnel est lui-même un mode et non pas un temps du mode indicatif). Enfin, il ne faut pas oublier ce que Thomson admet lui-même: "my book is really only a starter (mon livre n'est qu'une entrée eu matière)" Et il s'agit d'une entrée bien appétissante, garnie d'anecdotes piquantes (en italique dans le texte) qui valent à elles seules le prix du livres. Eugenio Bolongaro

Turn your computer into a tape recorder.
RecordIt, Iomega, 1-800-MY-STUFF, http://www.iomega.com
Requirements: Mac, Power PC, MacOS 7.5 or later, 16MB RAM, 5MB Disk space
Windows 95, Pentium 100Mhz, 16MB RAM, 5.5MB disk space, Sound card and speakers

The innovator of consumer removable storage systems such as the Zip and Jaz drives, Iomega Corporation, has introduced RecordIt, a computer digital tape recorder. RecordIt has two modes to record sound onto the computer's hard drive or a removable storage system: live music, conservations or lectures from a microphone, or selections from the computer CD-Rom There are four different levels of compression, i.e., the amount of disk space used. The highest is equivalent to CD quality and takes up the most space, whereas the lowest takes the least amount of space but sounds like an AM-Radio. The second and third level are good trade-offs, sounding surprising close to the highest quality. Tested on a Macintosh system, RecordIt, a coproduction with Q-Design, was a remarkable improvement over the normal recording software. The only draw back is the lack of recording level control as distortion occurs when the sound source is too loud or too close. Those looking for more sophisticated editing features should wait for the new year when Iomega introduces Buz, their multimedia sound and video editing software package. At $39 US, RecordIt is ideal for record and playback applications. It is very handy for musicians to listen to their own practice sessions.

Bach: Goldberg Variations BWV 988
Luc Beauséjour (Analekta FL 2 3132)

Mr. Beauséjour's brilliant rendition of Bach's monumental variation cycle, unlike so many other harpsichord recordings available, allows the music to speak for itself. The listener need not strain to hear the magical structures and counterpoint, which in many recordings seem to be battling the artist's barrage of idiosyncratic trills and rubato, typically justified as enhancing the harpsichord's dynamic range, and making it easier to distinguish voices in the canons. Mr. Beauséjour's humble restraint is very appreciated; the Goldbergs do quite well on their own, and nobody should expect to follow the canonic variations on first (or second or third) listening anyhow! The choice of repeats is unusual, and shows that his playing style is not indicative of a stiff attitude toward the score, sometimes the source of modest playing. The instrument, a 1995 reproduction by Yves Beaupré (of Montréal) of an 18th century Hemsch et Blanchet design, has a rich but not lush tone. Plectra clicks are relatively quiet, a real plus. Morley Davidson

Bach Christmas Oratorio
Akademie Für Alte Musik Berlin/ René Jacobs (harmonia mundi 901630-31)

This utterly splendid Christmas Oratorio immediately deserves a place beside, perhaps in front of, the competition. Jacobs' conducting is sprightly and inspired, with innumerable happy dramatic innovations (check out the suspenseful "Nur ein wink"). His little band makes a big, joyous sound and the German soloists are all past-masters of the text. Countertenor Andreas Scholl and bass Klaus Häger (the best "Grosser Herr" on record) are simply fabulous. Guaranteed to please.  Philip Anson

Mozart Arias
Kathleen Battle, soprano
Metropolitan Opera Orchestra/James Levine (DG 439-949)

Kathleen Battle is back with the best Mozart arias album of the decade. Recorded in April 1993, this superb testimonial to the prickly diva's phenomenal artistry has been held back for over four years by Deutsche Grammophon, presumably because of Battle's subsequent fight with the Metropolitan Opera (they work wonderfully together here, however). Phrase after phrase, aria after aria, Battle's unique flexibility, angelic timbre and soulful focus make this a treasurable album.

Olga Borodina Arias
Orchestra of the Welsh National Opera/ Carlo Rizzi.
Philips (Polygram)

With her lush, brilliant tone, Russian mezzo-soprano Olga Borodina offers listeners an astonishing variety of arias in this recording of operatic gems. From the world of bel canto, the arias from Les Huguenots and Semiramide find her coloratura fluid and clear. Only the occasional passage in the treacherous Cenerentola aria "Nacqui all'affanno" reveals an aspirate run or two. What a thrill to hear a big voice manage bravura. Rizzi commands his orchestra in fine style, allowing Borodina to shine, particularly in her three arias from Samson et Dalila. She becomes the seductress, filling "Printemps qui commence" with a wonderful sense of line and expansiveness. She sings "Succombera sous mes efforts" and we succumb indeed. Borodina's handling of the two baroque arias on this disc is weaker. We find Handel's "Ombra mai fu" and Purcell's "When I am laid" marred by the occasional strange vowel in Borodina's otherwise passable english. Perhaps the most marvelous track on this disc is Joan of Arc's aria from The Maid of Orleans. In this brilliant piece Borodina Tchaikovsky at the height of his musical and dramatic sensibilities.The orchestra sounds particularly rich and Borodina sounds particularly stunning with sweeping phrases and gorgeous tone throughout. Highly recommended. ­ Peter Phoa

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