This legendary recording of Verdi's 'Otello' has been spoken about in laudatory terms and after hearing it in one white hot session, I can definitely confirm that the sound is truly state of the art for 1947. As usual, Richard Caniell and his team have done wonders, restoring the original broadcast masters to something that is not only acceptable but quite astounding for its age.
Much has been said about this set and perhaps my humble words would not really sway any prospective listeners but here goes! Toscanini conducts with a blazing intensity that is unmatched in the history of any recording of this opera, and his trio of soloists surely scale heights that are now considered quite unreachable. Vinay is a strong Otello, calculating and assured while Herva Nelli really surpasses herself as a fair Desdemona with a voice of unhallowed beauty and wondrous projection.
But the star of singing must be Valdengo's 'Iago'. His brooding, evil concoctions are brutally uttered with a palpable sense of fanatical hatred that runs through the work like a gleaming coal. But again it is Toscanini who is the magician, weaving all the strands together like a wizard and producing an unvarnished diamond, as pure as those found in the mines of South Africa. The added bonus of the fascinating rehearsals also makes this set quite too good to miss at this price.
Copyright © 2004, Gerald Fenech