This selection of popular songs and ballads is taken from two RCA LPs recorded in 1950 and 1951. Long unavailable, their return on CD will doubtless be a cause for rejoicing by the baritone’s many fans.
With his popularity as America’s leading baritone in the 1950’s, Leonard Warren recorded songs that today would be packaged as a ‘crossover’ release. When the young Leonard entered the music profession as a member of the chorus at Radio City Music Hall he was already. To that point he was following in his father’s fur trade, his big break coming when he sang in Metropolitan Opera’s ‘Auditions of the Air’, and he was immediately shipped off by the Met to study singing in Italy. Though he had gone no further than one appearance on stage while at school, his return to the States in 1939 was marked by his Met debut. The opera house was to be his home until his tragic death on stage in 1960 at the age of 49. During that period he made a prodigious number of appearances and was heard in a number of critically acclaimed recordings. Vocally he was an ideal marriage of strength and richness, and possessed an amazing range that extended into the realms of a tenor, his portrayal of Scarpia in Tosca having a thrilling ring in the higher sections. Covering sessions from 1947 through to 1951 the disc opens with eight traditional Sea Shanties with an orchestral accompaniment, followed by eight settings of words by Rudyard Kipling including Rolling down to Rio, On the Road to Mandalay and Boots. Finally a group of ‘Songs for Everyone’ with Ol’ Man River, Love’s Old Sweet Songs and the Battle Hymn of the Republic. He packs them full of fun, almost as a good natured send-up of the old time Music Halls. It maybe one for Warren fans, but it will also be a trip of nostalgia for the aging.
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