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Top Customer Reviews
Ninon Vallin (1886-1961), a more brilliant vocalist per sè, with a better voice and a more subtle style, is a perfect foil for him: a tremendously conflicted Charlotte, profoundly disturbed below the cool exterior: Vallin does not miss a single nuance. And what phrasing, what tone!
Both these artists understand the style and character of this music perfectly, have all the resources, vocal and technical, to do their parts justice, and simply give their all: what more could one ask?
The 1931 sound has been expertly refurbished. All people who pretend to love opera simply have to get used to old recordings of musical greats. It comes with the territory. The music always comes first.
As a filler, NAXOS adds some further Massenet arias superbly sung by Georges Thill: they too are indispensable.
Sound: This set is clearly a relic of the early days of electric recording, but still quite listenable, once one accepts its limitations. Voices are clearly captured, particularly that of Georges Thill, and given emphasis over the rather dimly-caught orchestra.
Documentation: Naxos gives its standard package. There is a brief essay on the opera, accompanied by thumbnail biographies of the principal singers and all-but forgotten conductor. No libretto. There is a fairly useful plot summary tied to the track listings. (For those desperate for the words, a Google search under "Werther libretto" yields a serviceable French-English version.)
"Werther" is very much a tenor's opera. Although there have been a number of recordings since this primordial set, and many fine tenors recorded, none has ever matched Georges Thill in the role of Werther. Thill is said to have been the last, great, classic French tenor. Perhaps he was, but he was a robust one, with none of the preciousness that such a description tends to conjure up. Why, he was still giving concerts of Wagner's music into his sixties! His tone is slightly dry, his diction precise and his control awesome. I say that despite the famously bobbled high note. He could, I assume, have simply re-recorded his aria to correct the error but, I further assume, his self-confidence was so great that he let it go, just as in a live performance. Or it might be that he wanted to get out of the recording studio without delay, for--so the oft-told tale goes--he and soprano, Ninon Vallin, despised one another and had a stormy recording session.
Ninon Vallin is exactly what one imagines when one hears of a traditional French soprano.Read more ›
It is one of the great operatic in-jokes that Georges Thill and Ninon Vallin cordially loathed each other yet performed and recorded together frequently with immense success. Their voices are everything we expect from the French tradition: crystalline diction with a hint of pleasing nasality, seamless legato, smooth gradations of dynamics and just a pinch of acidity in the climaxes. Thill remains the ideal of a French tenor who could sing operetta and Wagner with equal aplomb. Vallin, although a soprano, has a beautifully registered voice which has no trouble with the lower reaches of the role. Her tone is limpid and warm with the fast but unobtrusive vibrato typical of many voices of the period; like Thill, she was a superb stylist who does nothing without a reason and makes her singing sound almost simplistic in its directness. Conductor Elie Cohen takes the right liberties with the score, steering a course between French elegance and restraint and verismo excess.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Most beautiful Werther in the lost French style around. George Thill and Ninon Vallin are both unsurpassed. No other recording of Werther comes close to this one.Published 6 months ago by Dante
THE STORE IS TO BE TRUSTED. THE RECORDING IS THE ABSOLUTE REFERENCE REGARDING MUSICALITY, STYLE AND PRONUNCIATION. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Petros
Take a star off for the 1931 sound -- made more than palatable by Ward Marston on this Naxos remastering -- and you have one of the greatest singers of the 20th Century on fine... Read morePublished on May 14, 2013 by Stanley Crowe