Various: Arias,

COMPOSERS: Various
LABELS: Decca
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: The Singers
WORKS: Arias,
PERFORMER: Pavarotti, Sutherland, Nilsson, Sills, Janowitz, Berganza, Tebaldi, London, etc
CATALOGUE NO: The Singers (20 discs, available separately Ð see text for catalogue numbers of selected releases)
Issued as enhanced CDs – CD-ROM facility will enable you to locate texts and translations, illustrations, a discography and access via the internet to relevant pages in the Decca web site – each disc in this series represents an important artist in the company’s catalogue. These enhancements, useful as they are, are not without their negative aspects. Why are the texts not in the booklets? Those without PCs or Macs will certainly be frustrated. And does the music invariably stop when another part of the multimedia program is explored?

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Good to see less well-known as well as famous singers revisited. Few will argue with the names,

but there are some strange repertoire choices for certain artists. Joan Sutherland (467 914-2) is represented by more Wagner than Donizetti, and more Noël Coward than either, and far too many of

her items come from the later years of her career, when the voice was noticeably less fresh.

One should perhaps be aware, also, that the recordings by the remarkable Russian/American mezzo Jennie Tourel (467 907-2), one of Leonard Bernstein’s favourite singers, show her voice past its prime, however inimitable the vocalism. Her Russian songs have great conviction, her French and Italian repertoire considerable personality.

Less controversial is a winning collection of Maggie Teyte (467

916-2), a very special artist in the realms of French operetta, the mélodie, English musical comedy

and English song – all sampled here and treasurable. At the opposite end of the dynamic spectrum comes clarion-toned Mario del Monaco (467 919-2), and there’s no denying the visceral impact of his thrilling instrument in Otello, Andrea Chénier, La Juive and other ‘big tenor’ operas.

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German baritone Hermann Prey (467 901-2) is irresistible in Mozart, and likeable (though hardly immaculate) as Rossini’s Figaro. But he comes into his own in Lieder by Schubert, Schumann, Brahms and Strauss. Finnish bass Martti Talvela (467 903-2) is sonorous and purposive in Schumann (the Op. 35 Kerner Lieder, with Irwin Gage a magnificent accompanist), and memorably engaged in Mussorgsky and Rachmaninoff.