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Jose Carreras

José Carreras - The Philips Years (21CD Box Set)

Celebrating one of the most remarkable tenors of our time, this set brings together the legendary Philips recital recordings of José Carreras. Born in Barcelona on 5 December 1946, Carreras displayed an early aptitude for music and was enrolled at age seven in the Barcelona Conservatory to study music.

Singing the part of Flavio in Bellini’s Norma in 1970 is how he met Montserrat Caballé, and the two became lifelong friends, the soprano both a performing partner with, and a mentor to the tenor. They recorded together and are heard, memorably, on a disc of duets excerpted from complete operas (CD17: Duetti amorosi).

Carreras’s lyric tenor with expressive bloom and supple legato is what he quickly became celebrated for, but as time progressed, he was increasingly involved in heavier dramatic roles. One such was Des Grieux in Puccini’s Manon Lescaut. While recording it in May–June 1987 (an excerpt can be heard on CD19), Carreras fell seriously ill. He was diagnosed with leukemia, but following treatment made a miraculous recovery, appearing, famously, in 1990 at the ‘Three Tenors’ concert with Pavarotti, Domingo and Mehta thereafter.

This set celebrates the immense diversity of Carreras’s repertoire. Bel canto and verismo are represented by arias and duets by Donizetti, Bellini, Verdi, Mercadante and Ponchielli. Paying homage to the land of his birth, we have recitals of Zarzuelas, Spanish arias and Spanish songs, and fascinatingly, songs by Falla and Verdi, orchestrated by Berio. Never afraid to celebrate popular music, there is a whole album of songs by Tosti (CD4), as well as popular love songs and Neapolitan favourites (CDs 2, 8, 11, 12). Choral music with tenor solos come in the form of the album ‘Ave Maria’ recorded with the Vienna Boys’ Choir (CD10) and Ramirez’s Missa Criolla (CD14). In addition to these 17 ‘recital’ CDs, there are three discs of excerpts from opera recordings, including signature roles Carreras performed in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor and L’elisir d’amore, Verdi’s Un giorno di regno (the first recording he made for Philips, in 1973, when not quite 27 years old), Un ballo in Maschera, Simon Boccanegra and Il trovatore, as well as French repertoire excerpted from complete recordings of Massenet’s Werther, Berlioz’s Lélio, Halévy’s La Juive and Saint-Saëns’s Samson et Dalila. His conductors are a calling card of great names, including Herbert von Karajan, Colin Davis, Lamberto Gardelli and Jesús López-Cobos. Included also, is an illuminating audio documentary presented by Jon Tolansky, who speaks with Carreras himself, as well as several people who knew and worked with him. Most of these recordings, both recitals and complete operas, are now out of print, so this release, featuring original jackets, is a welcome opportunity to refamiliarize ourselves with the art of an artist whom soprano Angela Gheorghiu called “the biggest winner that I’ve ever met in person”.

CD 1: José Carreras Sings Donizetti, Bellini, Verdi, Mercadante, Ponchielli RPO/Benzi CD 2: Popular Songs ECO/Benzi CD 3: Zarzuela: José Carreras Sings Spanish Arias ECO/Ros-Marbà CD 4: José Carreras Sings Francesco Paolo Tosti ECO/Müller CD 5: Puccini ∙ Verdi ∙ Donizetti: Love Duets (Katia Ricciarelli) LSO/Gardelli CD 6: Opera Arias LSO/López-Cobos CD 7: Romantico (Canciones Románticas) ECO/Stapleton CD 8: O Sole Mio ECO/Müller CD 9: Verdi · Donizetti · Rossini LPO/López-Cobos CD 10: Ave Maria Wiener Sängerknaben · Chorus Viennensis · WS/Harrer CD 11: You Belong to My Heart ECO/García Asensio CD 12: Love Is... Robert Farnon and his Orchestra CD 13: Canciones españolas Martin Katz CD 14: Misa Criolla · Navidad Nuestra Coral Salvé de Laredo · Sociedad Coral de Bilbao · Ocejo · Sánchez CD 15: Verdi & Falla Songs orch. Luciano Berio ECO/Berio CD 16: The Pleasure of Love ECO/Šutej CD 17: Duetti amorosi (Montserrat Caballé) PO/Gardelli · LSO/Masini · NPO/López-Cobos · OROH/Davis CD 18: DONIZETTI Lucia di Lammermoor (NPO/López-Cobos) L’elisir d’amore (RAI di Torino/Scimone) ROSSINI Elisabetta, regina d’Inghilterra (LSO/Masini) L’elisir d’amore (Frederica von Stade, PO/López-Cobos) Petite Messe solennelle (Claudio Scimone) VERDI Un giorno di regno (RPO/Gardelli) I due Foscari (Katia Ricciarelli, Samuel Ramey, RSOW/Gardelli) CD 19: VERDI Il corsaro (NPO/Gardelli) La battaglia di Legnano (RSOW/Gardelli) Stiffelio (Sylvia Sass, RSOW/Gardelli) Il trovatore (OROH/Davis) Simon Boccanegra (José Van Dam, La Scala/Abbado) Un ballo in Maschera (Sona Ghazarian, Montserrat Caballé, OROH/Davis) Messa da requiem (WP/Karajan) PUCCINI La bohème (OROH/Davis) Madama Butterfly (Juan Pons, PO/Sinopoli) Manon Lescaut (Bologna/Chailly) Tosca (OROH/Davis) CD 20: R. STRAUSS Der Rosenkavalier (RPO/De Waart) MASSENET Werther (OROH/Davis) BERLIOZ Lélio (LSO/Davis) BIZET Carmen (Agnes Baltsa, BP/Karajan) HALÉVY La Juive (PO/De Almeida) SAINT-SAËNS Samson et Dalila (BRSO/Davis) CD21: Audio Documentary with Jon Tolansky