Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 30, No. 14. 1967.
Classical and pops
Classical and pops
These days It takes nothing short of a phenomen n to fill the Wellington Town Hall for a Nzbc concert—last year the Israel philharmonic played to almost capacity houses, although much of the audience consisted of people who would not normally go to orchestral concerts. Elizabeth Schwarzkopf recently filled the hall on the sole attraction of artistic ability.
An outstanding new recording by her, "Richard Strauss: Four Last Songs And Five Other Songs With Orchestra" (Columbia Saxm 5258 Stereo). It is very hard to write a critical analysis of this disc, beautiful music sung superbly. I must admit that until listening to this record I had no idea that Richard Strauss had written anything so attractive.
The highlights are, of course, the four last songs. Superb orchestral accompaniment is provided by the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Georg Szell. An excellent recording.
I am always rather wary of operatic recitals by sopranos when the artist attempts to cover a vast range of styles, when confronted with "Leontyne Price, Prima Donna: Great Soprano Arias From Purcell To Barber" (Rca Victor Lsc 2898 Stereo) I was rather sceptical. It is no mean task to be completely successful in arias by Purcell, Mozart, Verdi, Meyerbeer, Massenet, Cilea, Charpentier and Barber and Miss Price shows what a marvellous dramatic soprano she is.
The delicate control of her voice in "When I Am Laid In Earth, from "Dido And Aeneas," and "Dove Sono," from "The Marriage Of Figaro," is in contrast to her magnificently dramatic Desdemona in the "Willow Song" and "Ave Maria," from "Otello." In the 19th century music her nearest rival on record would be Callas, but Miss Price does not suffer from pitching problems in her higher register as does Callas and the top notes come through perfectly and clearly.
The orchestral accompaniment is very good—the Rca Italiana Opera Orchestra, conducted by Francesco Mollinari-Pradelli. The stereo recording (done in the Rca studios in Rome) is well defined, with an extremely good balance between soloist and orchestra. Pre-echo mars occasional passages. However, this is not excessive.
"Evolution," by the Hollies (Parlophone Pcsm 7022 Stereo) is a further stage in the development of one of England's most original groups. Their last lp, "For Certain Because . . ." (Pcsm 7011 Stereo), showed their considerable songwriting abilities and perfection of their impeccable harmonies and although this new lp is not much different it confirms their established reputation. It is interesting to note that these last two lps, both extremely well recorded, have been produced by Bobby Elliot, their drummer.
"Puppet On A String." by Sandie Shaw (Pye NSPL 1812 Stereo', has a couple of attractive tracks—the title song and "Tell The Boys," but eight of the remaining 10 songs were written by Chris Andrews and they all sound alike. One thing though "Puppet" comes off very well on a stereo recording. The problem with the album is not Sandie, she has an appealing voice (even if rather montonous). but a lack of good material. Some psychologist should take Mr. Andrews aside and rid him of this delusion that he can write good pop music.