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POP MUSIC | Recordings

From Baritones to the 'Brazilian Bach'

Rumbling opera singers, a hotshot teen violinist and some radiant rarities are among the highlights.

May 30, 1999|CHRIS PASLES


Thomas Hampson, baritone; Samuel Ramey, bass; Munchner Rundfunkorchester; Miguel Gomez-Martinez, conductor


*** 1/2

A baritone has to come clean and declare himself when reviewing a CD with a title like this, which he is congenitally predisposed to cheer. Fortunately, Hampson and Ramey are so obviously accomplished that there is little risk of vocal prejudice.

Well-matched in timbre, weight and ease in creating character, the two sing eight comic and dramatic excerpts from operas by Cimarosa, Donizetti, Bellini and Verdi. Especially notable are confrontational scenes from Verdi's "Attila" and "Don Carlos" and a buoyant duet from Verdi's rarely heard early comedy "Un Giorno di Regno." Unfortunately, ensemble is not always impeccable.

Gomez-Martinez's conducting is spirited and expansive. Translations, so much a part of opera now, would have been a good addition, especially given the rarity of some of the works.


Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).

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