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Alla Breve

March 13, 1994|WALTER PRICE

McCORMACK IN OPERA. John McCormack, tenor; no orchestras or conductors credited. Nimbus NI 7820. One of the more beautiful voices ever recorded belonged to this Irish tenor. And the phonograph seemed to love him, as these discs attest. The arias released here are remarkable for their purity of tone, cleanness of attack and musical integrity. McCormack's diction is impeccable, whether in Italian (the French excerpts are also sung in translation) or English (in addition to Handel, the "Meistersinger" Prize Song). He transposes down his "Boheme" and "Faust" arias, although it sounds to be more for convenience rather than necessity. The much-lauded "Il mio tesoro" remains a marvel for virtuosic breath control. And it is all very dull. There is difficulty in hearing any difference in the singer's attitude toward Verdi or Boito or Delibes. Perhaps that is why he preferred his ballads on the concert stage.

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