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Paul Steinson
MusicWeb International, October 2015

…for the neophyte, this set provides pretty well as comprehensive an introduction to singing in the first half of the twentieth century as could be fitted onto four well-filled CDs. On the whole, David Patmore has made a very good job of the selection of singers, and in the great majority of cases I thought that the choice of example was an excellent introduction to the particular singer. © 2015 MusicWeb International Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, September 2015

Eight hundred and fifty page book detailing the career of 300 singers and the role they played in the history of recording, together with CD’s of their opera excerpts. With a book of the same outer dimensions as a CD jewel case, the whole has been packaged into a chunky box that will fit neatly into your CD shelving. It is the work of David Patmore, a lifelong collector of historic vocal recordings, whose knowledge of those releases is second to none. Maybe that fact has shaped the contents, his choice of the world’s greatest 300 singers containing 263 who are no longer on this earth, with only eight who are still active in the theatre. I guess it must have been a difficult decision to omit so many luminaries, such as Barbara Bonney, Renee Fleming, Felicity Lott, Joyce Di Donato and Willard White, all with an impressive discography, while male altos are totally excised. There will also be those who would, for instance, point to famous recordings that are omitted, such as the Cetra recording of Puccini’s La Boheme, Ferruccio Tagliavini’s greatest achievement, with the opening duet to the fourth act one of the most sublime moments ever placed on disc. But, of course, it is easy to criticise details, and all too difficult to create something as worthy as this, and I would urge you to buy it as a concise reference book to the recording careers and biographies of the great singers from the 19th and 20th centuries. The excepts on the four discs are well chosen: Caruso, Ponselle, Pertile, Garden, Thill, Stabile, Pagliughi, Bastianini, Björling, Callas, Gobbi, Nilsson, Tebaldi and Welitsch are all there in the sixty-nine tracks lasting almost five and a quarter hours. The release also comes with a special website that is free to purchasers, and contains many further hours of vocal music. © 2015 David’s Review Corner

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