It’s long time I bought this CD by EMI… Just think, Turner, Martinelli, Barbirolli, real monsters of the past time…

Normally, I avoid excerpts, but for these historical representations, you won’t get anything else than these excerpts, but, more or less two times the same excerpts with a 5 days interval… (The later excerpts are a little more complete… The entrance aria from Liu is preserved, and the riddle scene is a little longer…)

One of the interesting things about these recordings is, that they take place 11 years after the premiere of the Opera. And, as every other recording related to Turandot, you may see how the representation practice evolved.

This may be especially seen on the Calaf part. Martinelli (like in some extends Merli), lacks the “punchy” way of singing that the later Del Monaco or Corelli brought to this role. For me, Martinelli is more on the smooth side of singing the role… His nice voice (even if you have to accept his singing technique, which is a mixture of placing the voice in the mask, huge breath control, without darkening, letting the voice sound clear, but with a strong brilliance … The counter part is a lack of punch, typically in the higher tessitura). For me, he is a credible and very nice Calaf, even if I tend to prefer punchier singers in this role…

Licia Albanese is not my preferred singer for Liu. It’s too sharp, to childish in my view… This kind of singing may be OK for Madama Butterfly (thinking to Toti Dal Monte in the Serafin recording), but I think that Liu is more interesting than this. She is a, certainly young, woman, not a child anymore…

The most interesting singer on this recording is definitely Eva Turner. Her Turandot has everything you need to be good: The ringing higher notes, the strength, the percussion. She appears here as what she is, a very inhuman being… I like it, at least from what I’m able to hear…

And here we are at the biggest problem in my view: The recording quality… It is quite difficult to hear out the details on orchestral direction, what is a pity for this score. From the rhythmic point of view, nothing to add, Barbirolli is full in control…

So, what conclusion to this? If you like historical sound, are found of one of the singers, and/or are curious, it’s an interesting CD. If not, pass your way…

Kind Regards,

Christophe Grévent