Complete recordings, Vol. 1, 1902-11

COMPOSERS: Various
LABELS: Romophone
ALBUM TITLE: Mattia Battistini
PERFORMER: with various orchestras and accompanists
CATALOGUE NO: 82008-2 ADD mono

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The latest crop of recital discs is dominated by two Romophone twin-packs, each a ‘volume one’ of a planned ‘complete edition’.

The first features Mattia Battistini, ‘the oldest great singer who made records while still in the plenitude of his powers’ (I quote Michael Scott’s expert annotation). The opening track returns us to Don Giovanni with a cocky, off-the-cuff ‘Fin ch’han dal vino’, agile, vocally resplendent and enthusiastically applauded by a small but game gathering.

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Still, the best is yet to come: a remarkable Eugene Onegin aria, music from Rubinstein’s The Demon (Chaliapin territory, nobly declaimed), plus Verdi, Massenet, Wagner, etc – always ample of breath, interpretatively free, tonally mellifluous and truly bel canto. T