Various Artists

Tenors: 1904-1937

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A three-disc classical box compiling a trio of individual releases that were mastering using Nimbus' "Ambisonic" mastering method (involving an antique gramophone, a huge acoustic horn and modern digital technology). The results of remastering old records in this way are amazing -- there's still surface noise, of course, but it's not quite as evident as it might otherwise be, and the clarity of the recordings themselves, while hardly high fidelity, is a pleasant surprise. The standout is the Caruso disc -- while the musical accompaniment renders thin and tinny, Enrico Caruso's voice pours forth with a strength and quality that belies the primitive technology used to record it. The result is quite breathtaking, easily dwarfing both the John McCormack disc and the Tito Schipa compilation -- this latter, in fact, is easily the weakest of the trio, something especially evident when one compares each performer's renditions of material common to all three discs -- Donizetti's "Una Furtiva Lagrima" being particularly useful in this regard. And, as always, the high point is Caruso's heart-rending "Vesti la giubba" from Pagliacci. After that, nothing much counts...