Music of the Gods—Never Till Now

Lindsay Perigo's picture
Submitted by Lindsay Perigo on Tue, 2016-02-23 08:29

In a new Foreword for the upcoming, updated print copy of my book, The One Tenor, a contemporary operatic superstar—addressing the claim that a voice as impossibly beautiful as Mario Lanza's could only have been an artifice created by sound engineers—says:

Not even the most modern voice mixers can replicate the beauty that was Mario Lanza’s voice. Indeed, most tenors would be out of business if technology could even come close to mimicking him. What Lanza had was a gift from God that cannot be digitally bestowed nor replicated.

The "gift from God" is captured unambiguously in the latest of an admirably quick succession of Lanza CDs from Sepia Records, overseen by Dr. Derek McGovern, Never Till Now. To mix my metaphors, I am going to set a ridiculously high bar and go out on a sturdy limb: never till now did Mario sound as miraculous as this. Anyone who wants to dispute this claim must reckon with I'll Walk with God as he's never heard it before. Or the flawless Because from the soundtrack of The Great Caruso. Or For You Alone, whose penultimate note would bring down not just low-flying aircraft but the most distant satellite. To add rapture to ecstasy, the CD retrieves Mario's mischievous and beautifully-spoken introductions to The Night Is Young, If I Loved You and Because You're Mine. It is irrefutable proof of a further observation by the aforementioned super-star:

Many say that the voice is one of the mirrors of the soul and there can be no shadow of a doubt that Mario was a fine, sincere man, a fact so poignantly reflected in his singing that drew you in and left you wanting for more.

I shan't give a track-by-track review of this CD. Instead, I'll bestow on Derek McGovern, Sepia and its sound engineer Robin Cherry, this accolade: normally I make a point of setting aside an appropriate chunk of time each day to listen to a concerto or symphony or piano trio or quintet or some such, in my relentless desire to hear every last piece of music from the Romantic genre—music's apogee—ever written before I die. Over the last few days that time has been devoted solely to listening to this CD, without skipping a single track. It contains the essence and distillation of Romanticism. I can pay no higher tribute, nor offer a higher commendation.

Never Till Now is available from sepiarecords.com, and will soon be on Amazon.


Indeed LWF!

Olivia's picture

Oh yes, just as well - imagine the temper tantrums between the intervals of tear-inducing music! Smiling
Not for the faint of heart.

Lady S

Lindsay Perigo's picture

When Mario Lanza sings tenderly it makes me weep; when he sings powerfully it makes my Eddie weep. So between us, I'm sure there will be tears all round.

I weep when he sings tenderly and when he sings powerfully. Just as well we're not a threesome, Lady Slapper. We'd make the Biblical flood look like a trickle! Smiling

When it appears on Amazon...

Olivia's picture

I'll be at it like a demon.
When Mario Lanza sings tenderly it makes me weep; when he sings powerfully it makes my Eddie weep. So between us, I'm sure there will be tears all round. Eye

I can't wait to hear Never Till Now.

Sepia's managing

Derek McGovern's picture

Sepia's managing director---the redoubtable Richard Tay---has just told me how thrilled he was to read your review, Linz. But, really, he deserves every accolade for making this disc possible. As I've said before, he's a class act, and his insistence that the CD not be released until the sound and booklet design met with our full approval speaks volumes about his integrity.

What's more, I still have to pinch myself that he gave me and my collaborators (Armando, Vince, Lee Ann) complete freedom in compiling this disc and its three predecessors. Talk about trust!  

Yes, sound engineer Robin Cherry's outdone himself here (and so has designer Ray Leaning). Considering that he was working with vinyl, acetate and old reel-to-reel transfers, the sound quality is amazing. The rapturous "Without a Song," for example, has never been more richly and brilliantly reproduced, while hitherto-overlooked gems such as the title song and "If" are a revelation in Robin's expert hands. 

But, above all, this CD represents Mario Lanza at his very best in English song. As such, it is indeed "the essence and distillation of Romanticism." The great Russian tenor Vladimir Atlantov would undoubtedly agree. “When I listen to [Lanza],” he says, “I feel as if some golden lava is flowing toward me. I’m deeply moved when I hear him sing, and not only because he has a voice of unique beauty, [but because] it has everything from amazing firmness, resolution and dramatism to piercing, throbbing tenderness.” 

All of those qualities can be savoured on this beautiful CD.   

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