V2403. ENRICO CARUSO: The Milano Zonophone Recordings, 1902-04, incl. Songs by Leoncavallo, Tosti, Trimarchi, Denza, Zardo & Pini-Corsi; Arias from Les Huguenots, Mefistofele, L'Elisir, I Pescatori di Perle, Aďda, Rigoletto, La Gioconda, Adriana Lecouvreur, Germania, Fedora, Tosca, Iris, Manon, Cavalleria & Pagliacci. (France) Malibran 654. - 3760003776544
“There was a magic moment in the history of recorded sound and it is sometimes exaggerated or its significance may be lost on today's listeners. The record catalogs in 1902 contained very few records, and even fewer by celebrities. There was very little public demand for record players, but the industry was on the verge of being able to reliably reproduce sound and of mass-producing records. When Caruso's first ten records were offered for sale in the summer of 1902, they created a sensation and a demand for record players. The Caruso records were so good that they actually sounded like music when played. Caruso became a celebrity and he was very much in demand for public performance. Other artists, many of whom had refused to record, changed their minds and signed contracts with recording companies. And, as a consequence, became more famous, but none as famous or as popular as Caruso.
The tenor's voice recorded well. He had a gift and the recording horn was very kind to him.”
- John Bolig, ARSC Journal, Spring 2003
“Caruso's powerful emanations tested the very limits of the acoustic recording medium. He also challenged conventional operatic standards of acceptability. Caruso comes across as astonishingly human; his soul-baring emotive transmission is disarmingly direct and at times almost disturbingly emblematic of the human condition. Caruso's voice is a treasure and a solace.”
“Record making was still in its teething stages when Enrico Caruso first stood before the acoustic horn in 1902. Yet your attention quickly gets past the myriad sonic and musical blemishes (probably unnoticeable then, and irrelevant now) and zeros in on the voice. You might start with his first ‘Celeste Aďda’ (from April 1902), more tender and wistfully lyrical than the singer’s emphatic, slightly impatient remake later in the year. Bask in ‘Una Furtiva Lagrima’s' endless line and lilting ornaments, or indulge the singer’s heartfelt sobs at the climax of ‘E Lucevan le Stelle’.
It’s important to realize that this was contemporary music to Caruso. Indeed, Giordano’s ‘Amor ti Vieta’ and Cilča’s’ No, Piů Nobile’ feature their respective composers at the piano. More to the point, Caruso infuses all he sings with resplendent directness and generosity, forging a style that quickly became the archetype for all Italian tenors.”
- Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com