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Legends Of The Xx Century: Mikhail Alexandrovich

Alexandrovich / Gureyeva / Erdeli / Kovalev
Release Date: 05/10/2011 
Label:  Melodiya   Catalog #: 1001787   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Charles GounodFranz Joseph HaydnEtienne-Nicolas MéhulAlessandro Stradella,   ... 
Performer:  Mikhail AlexandrovichNatalia GureyevaOlga Erdeli
Conductor:  Leonid Pavlovich PiatigorAnna Kovaleva
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 54 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

MIKHAIL ALEXANDROVICH Mikhail Alexandrovich (ten); various accompaniments MELODIYA 1001787, mono (54:29)


The careers and recordings of Kozlovsky and Lemeshev, those legends from a golden age of Soviet opera, are well known. Not so much the roughly dozen other very fine Soviet tenors who challenged them on records, radio, the concert hall, Read more and stage. Sweet-voiced Georgi Vinogradov has received attention in recent years, thanks to the good folk at Immortal Performances. Mikhail Alexandrovich (1914–2002) was another popular tenor of distinction, who is largely unknown today.

Alexandrovich was born in Latvia, and trained in singing, the piano, and violin at the Riga State Conservatory. During the 1930s he periodically traveled to Milan as one of Gigli’s last in-depth students. Following the 1940 invasion of Latvia he entertained the Soviet troops, becoming a celebrated touring artist.

The liner notes state that Alexandrovich’s career became difficult after the war when he refused to perform Russo-Soviet works, focusing on 19th-century French and Italian operatic repertoire. This is oddly at variance with materials I’ve encountered elsewhere, however. Specifically, the far more extensive notes by Ellen Lebow to her first release of Alexandrovich’s recordings (Club “99” 105) refer instead to growing Soviet anti-Semitism in the 1950s, emigration requests, and Alexandrovich’s desire to perform abroad. Nowhere is his choice of repertoire mentioned, though of course any number of factors might have been involved in the problems he ran into, including envy of his financial success and official awards. Alexandrovich was finally allowed to leave the Soviet Union in 1971. After a brief and disappointing stay in Israel, he settled in the U.S., where he made four albums of cantorial and folk music for RCA.

Lebow claimed that between 1946 and 1964 the tenor made 70 recordings, which may have included both full albums and selections—two pieces often paired together on a single 78-rpm disc. For some reason, Melodiya has chosen to rerelease a fairly short grouping of 10 works, less than an hour’s worth, and of that, eight are from a relatively unsatisfactory 1962 release accompanied almost entirely by solo organ. While it’s interesting to hear what Alexandrovich could do with arias by Gluck, Méhul, and Haydn, and songs by Stradella and Giordani, he sounds moderately ill at ease throughout. The breath support is less secure, the tone tighter, more throaty than in earlier and later recordings, with a more prominent vibrato, and obtrusive syllables to smooth passages. There’s little magic to any of this.

Conversely, there’s plenty to be had in the remaining two selections. Alexandrovich’s 1955 rendition of “Una furtiva lagrima” is wonderful: gloriously honeyed tone, expressive characterization, bel canto phrasing, technical finish, forward enunciation (in Russian), a fine diminuendo halfway through, and a crescendo/diminuendo on a single breath at the end. The Prince’s aria from Dargomyzhsky’s Rusalka , recorded in 1952, is every bit as fine as Kozlovsky’s version (excerpted from the excellent but, alas, unavailable complete recording on Pearl 221). If Kozlovsky is more ardent, Alexandrovich has the more dulcet sound, and both are more imaginative in their treatments than any modern renditions I’ve yet heard.

The sound is generally good, if a bit airless. Filtering has been employed in the upper treble range, but most of the surfaces are clean with very slight distortion, and no ticks, pops, scratches, etc. I just wish more of the selections here showed what a fine singer Alexandrovich was. He recorded an excellent “Spirto gentil,” for instance, an aria from Ippolitov-Ivanov’s rarely heard opera Treachery , arias from Manon and Werther , and a number of popular Neapolitan songs. That said, there’s precious little chance to hear any Alexandrovich these days. This disc should furnish a corrective, without any apologies needed for its two best cuts.

FANFARE: Barry Brenesal
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Works on This Recording

Ave Maria by Charles Gounod
Performer:  Mikhail Alexandrovich (), Natalia Gureyeva (Organ), Olga Erdeli (Harp)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1859; France 
Date of Recording: 1962 
Length: 3 Minutes 9 Secs. 
The Creation, H 21 no 2: O happy pair, and ever happy henceforth by Franz Joseph Haydn
Performer:  Natalia Gureyeva (Organ), Mikhail Alexandrovich ()
Period: Classical 
Written: 1796-1798; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1962 
Length: 4 Minutes 39 Secs. 
Joseph in Egypt: Act 1. Aria of Joseph by Etienne-Nicolas Méhul
Performer:  Natalia Gureyeva (Organ), Mikhail Alexandrovich ()
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1807 
Date of Recording: 1962 
Length: 5 Minutes 45 Secs. 
Sei miei sospiri (All my sufferings) by Alessandro Stradella
Performer:  Natalia Gureyeva (Organ), Mikhail Alexandrovich ()
Period: Baroque 
Date of Recording: 1962 
Length: 8 Minutes 38 Secs. 
Caro mio ben by Tommaso Giordani
Performer:  Mikhail Alexandrovich (), Natalia Gureyeva (Organ)
Period: Classical 
Date of Recording: 1962 
Length: 4 Minutes 2 Secs. 
Paris and Helen, opera: Act 1. Aria of Paris by Christoph W. Gluck
Performer:  Mikhail Alexandrovich (), Natalia Gureyeva (Organ)
Period: Classical 
Date of Recording: 1962 
Length: 5 Minutes 1 Secs. 
Stabat mater: Cujus animam by Gioachino Rossini
Performer:  Natalia Gureyeva (Organ), Mikhail Alexandrovich ()
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1832/1842; Italy 
Date of Recording: 1962 
Length: 5 Minutes 38 Secs. 
L'Elisir d'Amore: Una furtiva lagrima by Gaetano Donizetti
Performer:  Mikhail Alexandrovich ()
Conductor:  Leonid Pavlovich Piatigor
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1832; Italy 
Date of Recording: 1955 
Length: 4 Minutes 14 Secs. 
Rusalka: Prince's Aria by Alexander Dargomizhsky
Performer:  Mikhail Alexandrovich ()
Conductor:  Anna Kovaleva
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1856; Russia 
Date of Recording: 1952 
Length: 6 Minutes 10 Secs. 
Per pietà, non ricercate, K 420 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Mikhail Alexandrovich (), Natalia Gureyeva (Organ)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1783; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1962 
Length: 7 Minutes 6 Secs. 

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