H/t to the Bow-tied One, (who slumbers not nor sleeps,) over at TNLM, for pointing the way to the New Statesman's review of Moreschi: the Angel of Rome.
My utterly uninformed, or rather, mostly informed by having read Henry Pleasant's "The Great Singers," and having heard a recording of some sacred art song, (can't recall which, but it was characterized by extravagant gulping and swooping, and squawking high notes,) take on Moreschi was that he was a nobody, famous only for, by dint of being the last of his kind, the only castrato to have been recorded.
It is interesting to read that there are other assessments of his talent, and that far from being a pitiable relic of a more barbarous time he was famous, fashionable and feted.
Nicholas Clapton, the author of this book, "a professional countertenor and musicologist, invites us to reappraise Moreschi."
My ears and more educated, and I can "get past" the sound that all, but particularly high pitched, voices have on early recordings, to hear the individual voice, that sound that once caused me to wonder what all the fuss had been about with a Galli-Curci or even a Ponselle.
Having heard more of the sound which seems to be, and to have been for many decades, cultivated by those given charge of the Sistine choirs, I am more loathe to blame an individual singer for it than I once was.
And I have come to appreciate more how dependent the impression even the greatest artist makes can be on others choices and on the tastes trends and choices of his society, his age.
So, looking forward to reading the book, and to giving old Al another listen.