Montserrat Caballé

The Very Best of Montserrat Caballé

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This EMI collection, The Very Best of Montserrat Caballé, could indeed be considered a "very best" of what Caballé has left in terms of a recorded legacy. Drawn from Caballé's EMI performances from the period 1970-1980, this collection captures her in the full bloom of her artistic prime. In regard to repertoire, this generous, two-disc set is heavily weighted toward Italian opera, in particular Verdi, Puccini, and Bellini; as a matter of fact, the whole second disc is devoted to the latter two names in toto. This should not be too surprising, as in these years, Caballé's London-based performances were mostly devoted to appearances in Italian opera productions. In order to provide contrast, EMI has wisely chosen to include a small number of songs by Joaquín Turina and Xavier Montsalvatge, where Caballé is sympathetically partnered with pianist Alexis Weissenberg. If you are looking for a "best of" or merely an introduction to the vocal art of Caballé, you can hardly go wrong here. The Spanish songs are especially enjoyable, but Caballé is likewise outstanding in all of the Italian opera that makes up the better part of this collection. The sound of these 1970s recordings is consistent from one track to the next and is excellent overall. The Very Best of Montserrat Caballé can be recommended without reservation, especially to those who are interested in hearing Caballé's singing without being particularly inclined to experience a full-length opera recording just in order to do so.

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