EMI is wisely creating a series of recordings to gather the moments of artists that showcase the very reasons they become so highly regarded. Usually these collections are produced late in careers or even posthumously, but in the case of THE VERY BEST OF THOMAS HAMPSON the artist is still one of the more active and premiere singers of our day. Yet while he doesn't still perform all of these inclusions, it is wonderful to have excerpts from various successful recordings to remind us of the artistry that Hampson represents.
The two disc set includes arias from operas: Rossini's 'Il barbière di Siviglia', von Weber's 'Euryanthe', Gounod's 'Faust', Massenet's 'Hérodiade', Bizet's 'Les Pêcheurs de perles' (in duet with Placido Domingo), Thomas' 'Hamlet', Verdi's 'Don Carlo', 'Il Travatore', 'Macbeth', 'La Traviata', and 'Falstaff', Korngold's 'Die Tote Stadt', and Wagner's 'Tannhäuser'.
But the rewards of a Hampson recording must include his impeccable career as a lieder stylist and on this recording are excerpts from Schumann's 'Dichterliebe', Schubert's 'Winterreise', Mahler's 'Rückert Lieder' and 'Das Lied von der Erde', as well as songs by Meyerbeer, Rossini, Grieg, Kalman, and Lehar. And very importantly there are examples of American songs that Hampson has always emphasized in his recitals. Works by Stephen Foster, and two extraordinary works with the brilliant accompanist Armen Guzelimian - 'An Old Song Re-sung' by Griffes and 'At Dawning' by Charles Wakefield Cadman - round out this fine survey.
Not usually a collector of such 'recombinations', for this listener this album is so very fine that it deserves the attention of all those who appreciate the artistry of Thomas Hampson - then and now. Highly recommended. Grady Harp, October 05