Verdi: Otello

Naxos: 8111018-19

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Verdi: Otello

Label:

Naxos

Catalogue No:

8111018-19
(8.111018-19)

Discs:

2

Release date:

27th June 2005

Barcode:

0747313301829

Medium:

CD

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Verdi: Otello


Recorded 1938

CD - 2 discs

Normally: $16.50

Special: $12.37

Usually despatched in 2 - 3 working days.

Gramophone Classical Music Guide

2010

“Not tall or ideally loud enough, his voice past its prime when (at over 50) he took the role into his repertoire, Giovanni Martinelli's Otello was a somewhat handicapped creation. He nevertheless wrung the heart, as Olin Downes (New YorkTimes) put it, by conviction, subtlety and pathos: 'Mr Martinelli was Otello, in facial play and tragic bearing, the suggestion of great uncontrollable force and agony – a figure which never failed to evoke admiration and pity.' On records he does more: almost every phrase comes to take the impress of his voice and style. The taut concentration of tone matches the emotional intensity; at every point a close and receptive study of the score has yielded its reward. Certainly there are things his voice would not do (take the high A flats at the end of the Love Duet softly, for instance), but it was still an impressive instrument. Walter Legge reported of his singing the role at Covent Garden in 1937 that 'a thread of pure gold runs through his voice', and he added that it was 'unlike any other tenor in the world today' save possibly the young Jüssi Björling, 23 years Martinelli's junior. At its best, as in the monologue, Martinelli's Otello remains finest of all.
The recording was pirated from radio and its transfer now is a triumph of Ward Marston's skill and hard work. He explains in a producer's note that the originals were not available for him to work on, but he has cleaned and restored so that the performance emerges more vividly than ever before. And what a performance! The conductor Panizza was Toscanini's deputy in earlier years, and something of the master's energy is felt, in company with more flexibility and willingness to accommodate his singers. In Act 1 especially he makes frightening demands upon orchestra and chorus who, it must be said, meet them dauntlessly.
The recording, which places everything in such a bright light, is less than kind to Elisabeth Rethberg. Until recently hers had been a voice of special and most beautiful quality; but too many Aidas seem to have left their mark and the close recording catches an untoward hardness, though there is no mistaking the stylishness and a high degree of surviving mastery.
Tibbett's Iago is superbly caught, the best account of the role on records, not forgetting Gobbi. It is a mercurial portrayal, now genial, now ironic or insinuative, nakedly malignant.
Like Martinelli, his response to every phrase is specific and vivid; and his voice resonates richly.
It was for him the recording was made. Anyway, he deserves our gratitude twice over – for his own magnificent performance and for this inestimable gift to posterity.”

Gramophone Magazine

February 2006

“…Giovanni Martinelli's Otello… The taut concentration of tone matches the emotional intensity; at every point a close and receptive study of the score has yielded its reward. The conductor Panizza was Toscanini's deputy in earlier years, and something of the master's energy is felt, in company with more flexibility and willingness to accommodate his singers. Tibbett's lago is superbly caught, the best account of the role on records, not forgetting Gobbi. It is a mercurial portrayal, now genial, now ironic or insinuative, nakedly malignant.”

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