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The Art Of Irina Arkhipova

Tchaikovsky / Rachmaninov
Release Date: 03/25/2014 
Label:  Melodiya   Catalog #: 1002123   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Peter Ilyich TchaikovskyModest MussorgskySergey Rachmaninov
Performer:  Irina ArkhipovaJohn WustmanIgor Guselnikov
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 7 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



TCHAIKOVSKY 6 French Songs. 1 6 Romances 1. RACHMANINOFF In the Silence of the Night. 2 I Wait for Thee. 2 Child! Thou Art as Beautiful as a Flower. 2 Fragment from Musset. 2 Lilacs. 2 The Dream. Read more class="SUPER12">2 O Cease Thy Singing, Maiden Fair 2. MUSSORGSKY Songs and Dances of Death 2 Irina Arkhipova (mez); 1 John Wustman, 2 Igor Guselnikov (pn) MELODIYA 102123 (67:24)


Here is a real treat, a Russian song recital by the greatest Russian mezzo of the 20th century. These recordings were made in 1970 (the Rachmaninoff and Mussorgsky) and 1978 (the Tchaikovsky songs), and they catch her in a particularly sensitive mood. Unlike in her stage performances, where she usually gave all-out, Arkhipova the song recitalist was a sensitive and musical interpreter, shading her voice magnificently and interpreting the words with great care. In addition to all this, she is partnered in the 1970 sessions by none other than John Wustman, one of the finest accompanists of her time, although the playing of Igor Guselnikov in the later recordings is pretty good as well.


The sound quality is unusually dry for the piano, which sounds as if it were recorded under a blanket. There is, though, a bit of space around Arkhipova’s voice which lends it a lovely quality when she floats her high notes. No question about it, she was a great artist and not just “a voice.” It’s a shame that she spent most of her career behind the Iron Curtain, a few rare escapes to other countries aside (such as her Naples performance of Carmen in 1960 and later tours with the Bolshoi Opera). She would have dominated the operatic scene of her day in a way that few other mezzos would or could do, particularly in the Italian and Russian repertoires which were her specialties. Believe it or not, she made her Metropolitan Opera debut at the age of 72, in 1997.


The liner notes indicate that the 1970 recordings, when first issued, were awarded the 1973 Orphée d’Or of the Academie du Disque Lyrique in France. They also claim that Tchaikovsky’s cycle of French Romances was only discovered in 1978, the year Arkhipova recorded them, and that the artist felt that she “was singing for Pyotr Ilyich himself, and I wanted so much to let him know that I completely comprehended him.” She could not have done better.


In the Rachmaninoff songs, I was particularly impressed by her clean singing of In the Silence of the Night, where the high notes are sung for their proper duration and not held on to; the Ravel-like delicacy of her performance of Child! Thou Art as Beautiful as a Flower; and the marvelous emotional restraint of O Cease Thy Singing, Maiden Fair, a difficult song to pull off because it calls for both emotion and delicacy. Mussorgsky’s Songs and Dances of Death were always an Arkhipova specialty, and she sings them here with a wonderful “inward” quality, and a way of acting out the lyrics, that draws the listener in to the meaning of each song.


I should point out that the back of the fold-over CD container claims that the Tchaikovsky songs were recorded with Wustman in 1970 and the Rachmaninoff and Mussorgsky with Guselnikov in 1978, but inside the booklet they get the dates and accompanists right. (The Rachmaninoff-Mussorgsky was released on a vinyl LP in 1972, Melodiya/Le Chant du Monde LDX 78514, so it couldn’t possibly have been recorded in 1978.)


This disc is a gem, plain and simple. If you like this repertoire, you cannot fail to omit this disc from your collection, and if you are an Arkhipova fan, you will place this disc at or near the very pinnacle of her artistic achievements. The only negative to this set is the complete lack of song texts in any language.


FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley
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Works on This Recording

1.
Songs (6), Op. 65 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performer:  Irina Arkhipova (), John Wustman (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888; Russia 
Date of Recording: 1970 
Length: 14 Minutes 46 Secs. 
2.
Songs (6), Op. 73 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performer:  John Wustman (Piano), Irina Arkhipova ()
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1893; Russia 
Date of Recording: 1970 
Length: 13 Minutes 33 Secs. 
3.
Songs and dances of death by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Irina Arkhipova (), Igor Guselnikov (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1875-1877; Russia 
Date of Recording: 1978 
Length: 19 Minutes 14 Secs. 
4.
In the silence of the secret night, song for voice & piano, Op. 4/3 by Sergey Rachmaninov
Performer:  Igor Guselnikov (Piano), Irina Arkhipova ()
Period: Post-Romantic 
Written: 1890-1893; Russia 
Date of Recording: 1978 
Length: 2 Minutes 41 Secs. 
5.
I wait for thee, song for voice & piano, Op. 14/1 by Sergey Rachmaninov
Performer:  Igor Guselnikov (Piano), Irina Arkhipova ()
Period: Post-Romantic 
Written: 1896 
Date of Recording: 1978 
Length: 1 Minutes 56 Secs. 
6.
Child, thou art as beautiful as a flower, song for voice & piano, Op. 8/2 by Sergey Rachmaninov
Performer:  Igor Guselnikov (Piano), Irina Arkhipova ()
Period: Post-Romantic 
Written: 1893 
Date of Recording: 1978 
Length: 2 Minutes 15 Secs. 
7.
Fragment from Musset, song for voice & piano, Op. 21/6 by Sergey Rachmaninov
Performer:  Igor Guselnikov (Piano), Irina Arkhipova ()
Period: Post-Romantic 
Written: 1902; Russia 
Date of Recording: 1978 
Length: 2 Minutes 0 Secs. 
8.
Lilacs, song for voice & piano, Op. 21/5 by Sergey Rachmaninov
Performer:  Igor Guselnikov (Piano), Irina Arkhipova ()
Period: Post-Romantic 
Written: 1902; Russia 
Date of Recording: 1978 
Length: 1 Minutes 56 Secs. 
9.
The dream, song for voice & piano, Op. 8/5 by Sergey Rachmaninov
Performer:  Igor Guselnikov (Piano), Irina Arkhipova ()
Period: Post-Romantic 
Written: 1893; Russia 
Date of Recording: 1978 
Length: 1 Minutes 43 Secs. 
10.
Georgian Song ("Do not Sing, My Beauty"), for voice & piano, Op. 4/4 by Sergey Rachmaninov
Performer:  Igor Guselnikov (Piano), Irina Arkhipova ()
Period: Post-Romantic 
Written: 1890-1893 
Date of Recording: 1978 
Length: 4 Minutes 25 Secs. 

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