English soothsayer Norman Lebrecht predicted that the year 2004 would spell the death of classical recording. How uncanny, how eerie the feeling when I opened the door of my office only to see a large stack of envelopes containing ... oh, horror! ... new classical CDs. They were ghoulishly similar in appearance, weight, and sound to the ones that came before the great Lebrechtian devastation. O unspeakable apparition! O unaccountable event! Playing now is a recital of Gounod and Massenet arias on Virgin Classics with the Mexican tenor Rolando Villazón. Unless someone has run a fiendish digital simulation in the studio, this is a major, beautiful, passionate, intelligent voice. Somehow I overlooked Villazón's Italian recital from last year; I'll have to track it down. The new disc is in stores January 25th. It is severe.