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.

The sound has all the swashbuckling balance and immediacy one associates with the best Decca recordings of the early 1960s. And, in this of all operas, that counts for a lot. The voices leap from the speakers, sounding impressively holographic, while the brass has amazing bite. You almost feel teeth marks in your ears! . . . The recording fully communicates the fervour and commitment of the singers and orchestra -- and that's saying something . . . the Rome orchestra rise to every challenge, and produce playing of swaggering power. And then there's the stellar line up of singers: Price, Vickers, Gorr, Tozzi, Merrill . . . The 1950s and 1960s really were a Golden Age. Oh for voices like that today! . . . [2 CDs + 1 Blu-ray Audio version]: this new Blu-ray Audio reissue is in a different league, adding extra space and air around the voices and instruments, while improving dynamics and ambience . . . superior in just about every respect -- cleaner, more detailed, and more real-sounding.

La réputation de cette version est-elle justifiée? A l'évidence oui . . . Tout concourt ici au succès général de l'entreprise, qui figure à bon droit dans les annales de l'histoire de l'opéra au disque . . . [il y a -- et c'est heureux -- bien des bonheurs a aller chercher dans d'autres versions de la discographie, mais] aucune n'atteint ce degré d'équilibre dans la perfection qui en fait le viatique indémodable pour l'île déserte.