One thing leads to another. After getting to grips with Audacity for the Belgian radio mix mentioned elsewhere, I decided to digitize my pretty extensive collection of old cassette tapes. The fruits of this labour include files of numerous music documentaries recorded from the radio down the years, now liberated from hiss. To listen to these again was to be struck over and over by what a waste it is that the brilliant work of so many people should be lost to posterity after a single airing and maybe a repeat. The tapes included, for example, all but two (frustratingly enough) of Russell Davies’s splendiferous 52-part Jazz Century, broadcast on BBC Radio 3 during the run up to the millennium. Each half-hour episode was repeated in the same week as the origination, but once the whole majestic parade had passed, that was it – never heard, or even so much as heard of, since. If this sounds like a podcast waiting to happen, there is of course the obstacle of copyright affecting the records used, which one imagines effectively consigns this formidable and (more to the point) continuingly relevant achievement to the vaults.
Another Radio 3 programme crying out for exhumation was a special 1994 edition of the series Vintage Years in which defrocked Tory minister David Mellor interviewed the great Luciano Pavarotti about his influences. So deeply shrouded in the mists of time as to be virtually ungooglable, and surely most unlikely to be made available this side of paradise, or at least a complete transformation of BBC policy, this is a fitting homage to the great tenors – Caruso, Gigli, Schipa, Di Stefano, Del Monaco, Kraus, Peerce, Bergonzi – who moulded and continued to inform the Italian’s style and interpretations. Needless to say, given such names, there is some pretty phenomenal singing to be heard along the way.
So I decided to publish this programme on YouTube, and if necessary be damned. While I was about it I thought I might as well add some images by way of illustration, rather than have a static screen. I believe the re-titled result – Pavarotti’s exemplars, I call it – to be an eminently fair use (in the moral sense, certainly) of valuable material which would not otherwise see the light of day. I have not sought the BBC’s permission in case they refuse it, although their position on such uses of their material is far from one of zero tolerance, as this article (key phrase “we don’t want to be overzealous”) makes clear.
(in two chunks because of their file size limit)
There follows a rundown of the music heard in the video:
00.00 Pavarotti: ‘Ah mes amis quel jour de fête’ (Donizetti, ‘La fille du regiment’)
07.32 Fernando Pavarotti: Handel’s Largo
11.30 Gigli: ‘Fra poco a me ricovero darà negletto avello’ (Donizetti, ‘Lucia di Lammermoor’)
19.48 Lanza: ‘Because’
26.06 Caruso: ‘Una furtive lagrima’ (Donizetti, ‘L’elisir d’amore’)
32.24 Schipa: ‘Pourquoi me réveiller?’ (Massenet, ‘Werther’)
39.39 Di Stefano: ‘Ah! non credevi tu’ (Thomas, ‘Mignon’)
44.37 Del Monaco: ‘Niun mi tema’ (Verdi, ‘Otello’)
51.25 Kraus: ‘L’amour! l’amour! … Ah! lève-toi soleil!’ (Gounod, ‘Roméo et Juliette’)
56.47 Björling: ‘Nessun dorma’ (Puccini, ‘Turandot’)
62.51 Bergonzi: ‘La mia letizia infondere … Come poteva un angelo’ (Verdi, ‘I Lombardi’)
70.03 Peerce: ‘La donna è mobile’ (Verdi, ‘Rigoletto’)
78.53 Pavarotti: ‘Ingemisco’ (Verdi, Requiem)
85.17 Pavarotti: ‘Torna a Surriento’ (Ernesto De Curtis).