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It is always going to be difficult choosing a greatest hits selection and opinions will always differ, but if these are Pavarotti’s fifty greatest tracks I would not want to hear the fifty worst. The first disc is mainly operatic – the inevitable ‘Nessun Dorma’ and many later nineteenth-century crowd-pleasers. The second disc is even more populist – Neapolitan songs through to some rock star collaborations. No Fille du régiment, surely a top ten track, and hardly any bel canto. If you’re a Pavarotti fan you’ll already know many (if not most) of these recordings; and if you just want a sing-a-long-a-Lucy album it’s fine. ‘Panis angelicus’ with Sting is surprisingly effective; ‘My Way’ with Sinatra, beyond ghastly; ‘Buongiorno a te’ a jaunty toe-tapper (if you’re an Italian reader, it’s the one in the Nutella advert). Curiously, to these ears the ‘previously unreleased’ 1961 La bohème aria ‘unearthed by his widow’ sounds identical to the one that’s been available for years on CD and the Internet; but listen to the astounding talent of the young Pavarotti and your jaw will drop.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica


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