VERDI Aida Price Gorr Vickers Solti 4782679

[Leontyne Price]: The American soprano had a gift for fusing voice, words and meaning, and was even able to adapt her vocal colours to her conductor . . . In her prime, the soprano seemed to be capable of anything. The lirico-spinto weight of her voice -- perfect for the Verdi Leonoras -- also managed coloratura orientated Gilda and Violetta arias . . . No wonder John Steane named her the greatest Verdi soprano of her time in his bible of 20th-century singers, "The Grand Tradition" . . . her classic 1961 "Aida" recording with Jon Vickers, Rita Gorr and Sir Georg Solti . . . changed the world, not just musically, but by making the opera stage a possibility for anyone with the talent.

One of America's leading sopranos for over three decades, and a favourite with conductors from Karajan to Levine . . . With "Aida", the Decca set of 1961 enshrines one of Price's most desirable readings, tone and expression in perfect accord, the phrases long and the technical hurdles of "O patria mia" gloriously jumped . . . she is a most persuasive interpreter. In any case her place as one of the 20th-century's most glorious voices and as an artist who could touch the heart, especially in her own language as Bess and in Italian as Aida, is assured.

Solti motivates his account of Verdi's score with thrilling dynamism, fully displaying the music's grandeur and depth as well as deriving considerable refinement from his Roman forces. His cast is led by Leontyne Price, the Aida of her generation, her enriched soprano fleshing out the title role with heady sensuality. Opposite her, Jon Vickers is a Radames in the heroic mould, but with the character's sensitive side also to the fore in a comprehensively thought-through and superbly sung account. Rita Gorr delivers Amneris's outsize passions in the grandest manner and Robert Merrill makes a memorably complex Amonasro, observing such niceties as comforting the heartbroken Radames after his unwitting admission of Egypt's battle plan. Compelling.

. . . extremely well produced . . . a stunning recording of "Aida" from 1962, with a first-class supporting cast led by Jon Vickers as Radames, and conductor Georg Solti at his most energetic . . . There are a few sets as good, but none that will give you more thrills than this one . . . remastered to top modern standards.