Beniamino Gigli Arias and Duets (1932-1949)
The record begins excitingly with the best—or perhaps just the best-matched—of Gigli's duets. Giannini's Santuzza, formidable as she is, pleads most touchingly, and the whole encounter is vivid as though on film. The quality of transfer, too, is superb, and one feels that if it is all going to be like this, well, what a treasure we shall have. It isn't, as we find, quite of that standard throughout. The next item, the ''Cujus animam'', is not really very good Gigli, for it wants a more heroic type of tenor and one who can take the high ending- we also become aware that the computer has left a few scrunches and other remnants of the original behind it after all, as it does in some of the other items. Then comes Harlequin's Serenade, made as a bonus at the time of the complete Pagliacci recording, and not quite the enchanting thing it might have been ten years earlier.
With Tosca we are back to Gigli at his best, and this form will reappear in the Fedora and Manon Lescaut arias. The ''Di quella pira'' shows how well he could simulate the voice and manner of the tenore robusto without impairing the natural beauty of his tone, and the Improvviso from Andrea Chenier affords a fine demonstration of his development as an expressive artist since the time of his first recording. There is still charm in his singing of the Aubade from