Ezio Pinza - Opera Arias
“Assurement”, says Andre Tubeuf in answer to his own question concerning the most remarkable Italian bass of the century. “You have only to hear Ezio Pinza”. And it is true: even having just (within a few days, that is) recovered from the stunning experience of hearing Nazzareno De Angelis, Pinza’s senior by a decade, in the Preiser collection (to be reviewed next month), one returns to Pinza and finds strength in an otherwise unmatched association with a richly flavoured sweetness. Take the opening phrases of the Prayer in Rossini’s Mose, providing the first taste of the voice in this anthology. The sad, Bellini-like melody is given such sensitive utterance, incomparable in its beauty of essentially Italianate tone, followed by such a power of crescendo: here is the king of his kind, ‘assurement’.
With two additions, the CD corresponds to the HMV Treasury issue on LP (10/83—nla), one of the finest in the series, with superb transfers, many of them from rare originals recorded when Pinza was making his name in Italy before becoming primo basso in New York. The ‘extras’, from 1927, date from that later period, showing an additional authority and supported by the benefits of an electrically recorded orchestra for accompaniment. The aria from I vespri siciliani is in most respects a model of legato style and the introductory recitative has a sumptuousness of tone to match the warmth of sentiment. In the Meyerbeer solo the phrasing and power of nuance impress as does the wide-ranging majestic resonance. Even so, it is interesting to find that electrical recording does not really alter one’s perception of this voice and the art of its usage: the pre-electricals are remarkably faithful, and indeed I’m not sure that a well-chosen couple of them (say the magnificent solos from La juive) do not tell “all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know” about the truth of this particular beauty.
On these early records Pinza is joined by several other singers, and the booklet ought to include information about them. Very few of today’s listeners know anything of Poli-Randaccio, Offers, d’Alessio and Giorgini, and I should think they may well be curious to learn more. They may also wish to be reminded of the context of these excerpts. Elizabeth Forbes’s essay for the LP contained both biographical and contextual information. She has now written new notes, equally admirable in following her instructions, I’ve no doubt; but these have limited her to the subject of Pinza himself, and the particularly adroit dual-purpose writing of the original piece has been sacrificed. Meanwhile the back page of the insert simply duplicates information given on pages 2 and 3 and reproduced on the back of the jewel-case. There is also another half page to spare, and there could be more if the French contribution were not half as long again as the English and its German translation. The wisdom of these arrangements is not apparent.