CD MSM0009  (2008)

Some of us will only vaguely remember the name of Paul Asciak as the man who sang Flavio in Callas’s Covent Garden debut as Norma; others will link the name to present-day tenor Joseph Calleja. It is indeed Callaja –who was Asciak’s student- who wrote a dedication in the cd’s booklet. Calleja describes Asciak’s voice as one which has always impressed him for its squillo, virility and burnished sound.
Three characteristics which are indeed present in the voice and today he surely would have made it big but way back to the fifties the tenor competition he was up to proved perhaps too much of a strain for the Maltese tenor as he took early retirement already in 1961. The Cd is made up of various sources all live recorded and they include Neapolitan songs, Verdi, Puccini, Giordano, Leoncavallo and Cilea. There is a big excerpt from an ‘English’ Fanciulla in which he’s joined by Elaine Malbin. Minie is a role we hardly associate Malbin with but she’s immensely impressive and like Kirsten (not a natural Minnie voice either) she masters the role completely. Excellent enunciation, wonderful technique, no vocal difficulties at all  with her lean and bright soprano piercing through the sometimes heavy orchestration. Awesome.

Rudi van den Bulck, Operanostalgia