Nicolai Gedda in Concert

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Russian songs, Dubrovsky (Napravnik) + Fedora and Arlesiana. Print is slightly murky. 49m. Color. Packaged in a black sleeve.

Not only is the singing gorgeous, the pleasure Gedda and the chorus take in both it and each other warms the heart. A truly exceptional video.–Bert Wechsler

From his earliest professional years Gedda made a specialty of Russian song, both folk and classical, and for the most part it is in this repertory that we find him on this tape. He may not have sounded totally Italian, but he did sound French and German, and in this repertory he damned sure sounds Russian (which he was on his father’s side). At age 59, and after more than three decades of operatic stardom, his voice was still youthful, bright and shining, with a ringing top. He sings two Tchaikovsky songs ravishingly, “On This Moonlit Night” and “At the Ball.” As tenor versions go, only Kozlovsky can equal or surpass Gedda in these. He then delivers Tchaikovsky’s “Don Juan Serenade” like a boisterous “Di quella pira.” The audience eats it up. The highlight of the evening, the aria from Dubrovsky by Napravnik, is gorgeously done with a real full-toned pianissimo ending that drives the audience wild. For its equal, you really do have to go back to Kozlovsky. Yet one more folk song brings the concert proper to a wonderful conclusion.

Two arias have been added from another concert with Gedda at about the same age and in the same superb vocal condition: “Amor ti vieta,” important because it could have been written for Gedda’s voice and yet he never recorded it, and the “Lamento di Federico,” in a performance that is actually better than his recording of the piece a full 30 years earlier.

I experienced a much more enjoyable time throughout the program than I could ever remember coming my way during any Pavarotti concert. Gedda never seems to take his audience for granted. He sings at all times with everything he has; he seems to live each selection as he performs it, alive to every nuance in words as well as music. With him there is no such thing as automatic pilot. He remains composed and relatively reserved at all times, accepting applause, even screams of approval, without milking the audience for more–and with no B.S. about whether or not an encore will be granted. There is a reciprocal respect between artist and audience that is rarely encountered in L.P.’s concerts. Beyond that, I just happen to find Gedda’s smiling tone inherently more pleasing and his top notes more resplendent than those of his more famous near contemporary. Why not try this tape and see how much can be accomplished by a great artist in unhackneyed material, even without benefit of handkerchief or close-up, post-aria trauma! —Joe Pearce, President of The Vocal Record Collector’s Society