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Our motto: "Critical thinking in the cheap seats." Unbiased, honest classical music and opera opinions, occasional obituaries and classical news reporting, since 2007. All written content © 2016 by Paul J. Pelkonen. For more about Superconductor, visit this link. For advertising rates, click this link. Follow us on Facebook.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

CD Review: Pavarotti in Idomeneo from 1964

The classic recording from Glyndebourne finally comes to light.
by Paul Pelkonen
EEK! What's that?
In 1964, Luciano Pavarotti was an up-and-coming tenor, just beginning to be heard outside of his native Italy. He was three years into his career when he sang the the role of Idamante at the Glyndebourne Festival. The performances were crucial to exposing the singer to English audiences, not to mention acquainting him with the Mozart opera that he would be associated with later in his career, when he would take on (and record) the more demanding title role.

This recording is the document of those performances. It finds the young Pavarotti in top form. He might be a little raw in spots, but that could also be the fault of the sound quality. The power, range and flexibilty of his instrument are all present, along with that rich, orotund sound that the world fell in love with. Listening to this set, one gets the sense of a young man on his way up, about to conquer the world.


The rest of the cast is incredibly strong. Gundula Janowitz soars as Ilia. She's only 27 here, and the great Karajan recordings were in her future. Like Pavarotti, she was heading for bigger things. Tenor Richard Lewis is strong in the role of Idomeneo, a part which Pavarotti would take on later in his career when his voice had matured a bit. John Pritchard leads a skilful, light-footed performance, conducting from the keyboard.

It should be noted that this recording does not hold up as an ideal first choice for Idomeneo. The performers are using an edited edition of the score which hurts the work's dramatic flow and omits the ballet music. And the live-recorded sound is occasionally thin, as if the microphones were sometimes in the wrong place. However, this is a valuable document and a great performance. It's also a must for Pavarotti fans who want to hear what their hero sounded like when he was just starting out.
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Critical Thinking in the Cheap Seats

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Since 2007, Superconductor has grown from an occasional concert or CD review to a near-daily publication covering classical music, opera and the arts in and around NYC, with excursions to Boston, Philadelphia, and upstate NY. I am a freelance writer living and working in Brooklyn NY. And no, I'm not a conductor.