WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org

The Bolshoi Experience - Highlights From Russian Operas


Release Date: 07/25/2006 
Label:  Pentatone   Catalog #: 5186089   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Mikhail GlinkaAlexander DargomizhskyPeter Ilyich TchaikovskyAlexander Borodin,   ... 
Performer:  Mikhail GubskyAlexander NaumenkoVsevolod GrivnovYuri Nechaev,   ... 
Conductor:  Alexander Vedernikov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bolshoi Theatre OrchestraBolshoi Theatre Chorus
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 16 Mins. 

In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.

This recent release will be quite a treat for opera fans. While the early years in the Bolshoi's history were heavily influenced by non-Russian influences (mainly Italian) it was in the 19th century that the emerging feeling of Russian nationalism created a surge of operas by Russian composers like Tchaikovsky, Mikhail Glinka and Alexander Borodin. While many of the Russian operas are now remembered by a few select pieces (Polovtsian Dances from Borodin's Prince Igor comes to mind) other composer's operas are still mainstays in opera houses around the world (Tchaikovsky's Queen of Spades and Eugene Oneigin and Glinka's Ruslan and Lyudmila). Read more />
PentaTone is one of a number of labels that I have come to be very fond of. I have the ultimate respect for the Polyhymnia team (the same team responsible for the fabulous Caro Mitis SACD recordings). The sound is expansive, well detailed, very transparent and gives the listener an excellent feel for the house. I have no trouble "seeing" into the forces and there is plenty of detail captured. As usual, the sound is simply excellent! Sadly, there are not many recordings available of the Bolshoi. If you think you would like to hear the Bolshoi but never expect to get to Russia, then this SACD is for you. Same goes for opera fans that like Russian opera (and want to hear it done correctly) then this SACD is also for you. Do I like this SACD? You bet, in case you have not already guessed!!

-- Mark Wagner, positive-feedback.com

During the last year quite a few recordings of Russian opera have come my way, both historical and latter day, both CDs and DVDs, among them several Bolshoi productions. Now here comes a compilation of excerpts from the present generation of Bolshoi artists, recorded less than a year ago in stunning SACD sound, rendering an impressive realism to the performances. The chorus and orchestra, always among the top contenders in the operatic world, are heard in their full glory with magnificent brass and silken strings. The chorus includes excellent voices, less vibrato-laden than earlier incarnations and with a punch that makes the Polovtsian dances really thrilling. I have a 15-year-old recording of these dances under former principal conductor Alexander Lazarev (Erato) and the feeling of deep familiarity and involvement is just as tangible but the present recording has an even greater impact thanks to the sharply etched SACD sound.

I had the great good fortune to hear these forces under their present chief conductor Vedernikov a little over a year ago, at Dalhalla, on the company’s first ever visit to Sweden and was greatly impressed. Then it was Puccini’s Turandot; here we have them in more home-grown repertoire. The choice of items seems to have been made to give a picture of the development of Russian opera in the nineteenth century: Glinka, Dargomizhsky, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov presented in chronological order. The four numbers from Borodin’s Prince Igor, constituting the second half of act 2, have been tugged out of the chronology to make a thrilling end to the programme.

I have already praised the chorus and orchestra and Alexander Vedernikov - not to be confused with the imposing bass singer during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s - leads his forces idiomatically. Isolated pieces like these can’t tell us everything about his large-scale capacity but his handling of the Puccini score at Dalhalla last year left no doubts that here is an important opera conductor. The opening number, the Polonaise and chorus from A Life for the Czar, is a real cracker that should be a favourite at any concert with opera choruses. By the way, do they exist nowadays?

The disc also gives us the opportunity to hear a handful of singers from the present generation. As usual there are several fine basses on display, among whom Kiev-born Taras Shtonda is the most well-known with a number of fine recordings to his credit. He sings the old Gypsy’s song from Rachmaninov’s Aleko and confirms the good impression from other recordings with his beautiful and warm delivery. Vladimir Matorin also sings well in Susanin’s aria from A Life for the Czar. He can’t quite compete with Mark Reizen or Evgeny Nesterenko on two complete sets I have reviewed recently, but he is an impressive bass even so. Even more involving is Valery Gilmanov as Konchak in Prince Igor – a big-voiced expressive singer. The two tenors are good though not exceptional and Elena Zelenskaya is a somewhat occluded Lisa in Pique Dame. The baritone Yuri Nechaev, however, who sang the small role of The Mandarin at Dalhalla, turns out to be a major artist. His Mazeppa is excellent, maybe not in the Leiferkus or Putilin class, but not far behind and he is a really imposing Prince Igor.

There is an essay on the music in three languages and several fine colour photos from Bolshoi stagings but no texts. Playing time is generous and I wouldn’t mind a second issue, covering operas that are not included here and giving another opportunity to hear some of these singers again and maybe some others from the Bolshoi roster.

-- Göran Forsling , MusicWeb International
Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
A Life for the Tsar: After the battle the god of war by Mikhail Glinka
Conductor:  Alexander Vedernikov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra,  Bolshoi Theatre Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: Russia 
Venue:  Moscow, Russia 
Length: 4 Minutes 39 Secs. 
Language: Russian 
Notes: Moscow, Russia (11/2005 - 02/2006)
Composition written: Russia (1834 - 1836). 
2.
Rusalka: Mad Scene and Death of Miller by Alexander Dargomizhsky
Performer:  Mikhail Gubsky (Tenor), Alexander Naumenko (Bass)
Conductor:  Alexander Vedernikov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra,  Bolshoi Theatre Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1848-1855; Russia 
Venue:  Moscow, Russia 
Length: 11 Minutes 39 Secs. 
Language: Russian 
Notes: Moscow, Russia (11/2005 - 02/2006) 
3.
Iolanta, Op 69: No! The charms of a voluptuous beauty by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performer:  Vsevolod Grivnov (Tenor)
Conductor:  Alexander Vedernikov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1891; Russia 
Venue:  Moscow, Russia 
Length: 4 Minutes 14 Secs. 
Language: Russian 
Notes: Moscow, Russia (11/2005 - 02/2006) 
4.
Mazeppa: O, Marija, Marija by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performer:  Yuri Nechaev (Baritone)
Conductor:  Alexander Vedernikov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1881-1883; Russia 
Venue:  Moscow, Russia 
Length: 5 Minutes 12 Secs. 
Language: Russian 
Notes: Moscow, Russia (11/2005 - 02/2006) 
5.
Prince Igor: No sleep, no rest "Igor's Aria" by Alexander Borodin
Performer:  Yuri Nechaev (Baritone)
Conductor:  Alexander Vedernikov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1869-1887; Russia 
Venue:  Moscow, Russia 
Length: 6 Minutes 53 Secs. 
Language: Russian 
Notes: Arranger: Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.
Moscow, Russia (11/2005 - 02/2006) 
6.
Prince Igor: How goes it, Prince? "Konchak's Aria" by Alexander Borodin
Performer:  Valery Gilmanov (Bass)
Conductor:  Alexander Vedernikov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1869-1887; Russia 
Venue:  Moscow, Russia 
Length: 6 Minutes 31 Secs. 
Language: Russian 
Notes: Moscow, Russia (11/2005 - 02/2006) 
7.
Prince Igor: Hey, bring the captive girls here! by Alexander Borodin
Performer:  Yuri Nechaev (Baritone)
Conductor:  Alexander Vedernikov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: Russia 
Venue:  Moscow, Russia 
Length: 2 Minutes 57 Secs. 
Language: Russian 
Notes: Arranger: Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.
Moscow, Russia (11/2005 - 02/2006)
Composition written: Russia (1869 - 1887). 
8.
Prince Igor: Polovtsian Dances by Alexander Borodin
Conductor:  Alexander Vedernikov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra,  Bolshoi Theatre Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: Russia 
Venue:  Moscow, Russia 
Length: 11 Minutes 40 Secs. 
Language: Russian 
Notes: Moscow, Russia (11/2005 - 02/2006)
Composition written: Russia (1869 - 1887). 
9.
Aleko: Old Gypsy's Story by Sergei Rachmaninov
Performer:  Taras Shtonda (Bass)
Conductor:  Alexander Vedernikov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra,  Bolshoi Theatre Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1893; Russia 
Venue:  Moscow, Russia 
Length: 5 Minutes 25 Secs. 
Language: Russian 
Notes: Moscow, Russia (11/2005 - 02/2006) 
10.
A Life for the Tsar: They sense the truth "Susanin's Aria" by Mikhail Glinka
Performer:  Vladimir Matorin (Bass)
Conductor:  Alexander Vedernikov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1834-1836; Russia 
Venue:  Moscow, Russia 
Length: 5 Minutes 8 Secs. 
Language: Russian 
Notes: Moscow, Russia (11/2005 - 02/2006) 
11.
Rusalka: Unwillingly to these sad shores "Prince's Cavatina" by Alexander Dargomizhsky
Performer:  Mikhail Gubsky (Tenor)
Conductor:  Alexander Vedernikov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1848-1855; Russia 
Venue:  Moscow, Russia 
Length: 6 Minutes 0 Secs. 
Language: Russian 
Notes: Moscow, Russia (11/2005 - 02/2006) 
12.
Queen of Spades, Op. 68: Midnight is nearing (Lisa's Aria) by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performer:  Yelena Zelenskaya (Soprano)
Conductor:  Alexander Vedernikov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1890; Russia 
Venue:  Moscow, Russia 
Length: 5 Minutes 14 Secs. 
Language: Russian 
Notes: Moscow, Russia (11/2005 - 02/2006) 

Sound Samples

Zhizn' za tsarya (A Life for the Tsar), Op. 4: Act II: Polonaise and Chorus: Bog vojnyi posle bitv... (After the Battle the God of War)
Zhizn' za tsarya (A Life for the Tsar), Op. 4: Act IV: Tchujut pravdu! (They sense the truth!), "Ivan Susanin's aria"
Rusalka: Act III: Nevol'no k etim grustnyim beregam... (Some unknown power), "Prince's cavatina"
Rusalka: Act III: Chto eto znachit? (What does this mean?), "Mad scene"
Iolanthe, Op. 69: Net, charyi lask krasyi myatezhnoj, "Vaudemont's Romance"
The Queen of Spades, Op. 68: Pique Dame (The Queen of Spades), Op. 68: Act III: Uzh polnoch blizitsya, "Lisa's aria"
Mazeppa: Act II: O Marija, Marija, "'s Arioso"
Aleko: Volsebnoy siloy pesnopen'ya (The Magic Power of Song), "Old Gipsy's Story"
Prince Igor (Knyaz Igor): Act II: Ni sna me otdykha (No sleep no rest), "Prince Igor's aria"
Prince Igor (Knyaz Igor): Act II: Zdorov li, knyaz? (Are you in good health, Prince?), "Konchak's aria"
Prince Igor (Knyaz Igor): Act II: Recitative: Gey, privesti syuda! (Hey, bring the captive girls here!)
Prince Igor (Knyaz Igor): Act II: Polovtsian Dances

Customer Reviews

Be the first to review this title
Review This Title
Review This Title Share on Facebook




YOU MUST BE A SUBSCRIBER TO LISTEN TO ARKIVMUSIC STREAMING.
TRY IT NOW FOR FREE!
Sign up now for two weeks of free access to the world's best classical music collection. Keep listening for only $19.95/month - thousands of classical albums for the price of one! Learn more about ArkivMusic Streaming
Already a subscriber? Sign In