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Prokofiev: The Love For Three Oranges / Dalgat, Ribinsky, Polyakova, Rashkovets, Makhov

Prokofiev / Soloists All-union Radio So / Dalgat
Release Date: 05/08/2012 
Label:  Melodiya   Catalog #: 1001944  
Composer:  Sergei Prokofiev
Performer:  Nina PostavnichevaTamara MedvedevaGennady TroitzkyYuri Yelnikov,   ... 
Conductor:  Gemal Dalgat
Orchestra/Ensemble:  All-Union Radio ChorusAll-Union Radio/TV Large Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

PROKOFIEV The Love for 3 Oranges Dzemal Dalgat, cond; Viktor Ribinsky ( King of Clubs ); Vladimir Makhov ( Prince ); Boris Dobrin ( Leandro ); Lyutsia Rashkovets ( Princess Clarissa ); Ivan Budrin ( Prantaloon ); Yuri Yelnikov ( Truffaldino ); Gennadi Read more Troitsky ( Celio ); Nina Polyakova ( Fata Morgana ); Nina Postavnicheva ( Smeraldina ); Georgi Abramov ( Cook ); Yuri Yakushev ( Farfarello ); Tatiana Kallistratova ( Ninetta ); All-Union Radio O/Ch MELODIYA 10 01944 (2 CDs: 106:04)

Over the years I’ve reviewed four recordings of The Love for Three Oranges , on DVD and CD. Each has been interesting and moderately successful, but none has held up to the standard set by the 1961 Melodiya version. For example, in my review of a 2006 recording of the opera in English, led by Richard Hickox, I referred at the end to “the underrated Dzehmal Dalgat leading a superb ensemble. Standouts included Vladimir Makhov’s Prince (Makhov was a lyric with a glorious heroic ring, also featured in the tenor lead of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Mlada on Melodiya), and the Fata Morgana of Nina Polyakova (whose Cockerel in the 1950s recording of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Zolotoy petushok remains unmatched for its fearlessness and accuracy). Dalgat’s The Love for Three Oranges is certainly closest to Prokofiev’s manic vision.”

Until recently, that recording was almost impossible to find. Now it’s back, sadly minus the full libretto with English translations that the LP version (U.S. release) on Angel SRBL 4109 possessed, but otherwise intact. I remain as ever impressed by the way Dalgat sustains the pulse, clarifies textures—Prokofiev’s orchestration is especially startling and idiosyncratic in this score—and points the musical in-jokes. There’s no missing the dig at Puccini-esque harmonies when the evil characters of Smeraldina, Clarissa, and Leandro rapturously intone the name of “Fata Morgana,” for instance, or the numerous clichéd full cadence attempts by Celio to summon Farfarello, or the wonderfully ambiguous major-minor chord that concludes the game of the “kabalistic cards.”

The cast members, many of whom had performed the work on stage over the years, are thoroughly into their roles. I’ve already mentioned Makhov and Polyakova, but deserving of equal praise are Viktor Ribinsky’s marvelously suffering, Boris-like King, whose lyrical “Odnazhdy doktora skazali” is a delight, as is Boris Dobrin’s unctuous, full-bodied Leandro. Gennadi Troitsky makes a sonorous Celio, and Georgi Abramov is the most menacing and grotesque Cook on DVD or CD. Tatiana Kallistratova’s light lyric is fully equal to the challenge of both Prokofiev’s earliest evocative love scene, and partnering with Makhov’s bright but flexible tenor. The chorus, which plays such an important role (actually, many roles) in this opera, is first-rate. All the beauty, snide wit, and iconoclasm of Prokofiev’s score are on view, not softened or drained of energy, as is all too regularly the case.

The liner notes are frankly poor. There’s a brief summary, without track references to the discs, and a cast list that doesn’t even bother to include the performers’ first names. True, the original recording didn’t bother including anything but first initials, in typical Russo-Soviet fashion, but the full names have been known for years. And the timings are frankly impoverished. At just over 50 minutes per disc, wouldn’t it have been possible to include something else in Melodiya’s extensive back catalog on this set?

None of this matters, however, now that Dalgat’s Love for Three Oranges is back in print. The sound is good and clear, the singers forward, and if you love the score or are just curious about it, this is the one version to get.

FANFARE: Barry Brenesal
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Works on This Recording

Love for Three Oranges, Op. 33 by Sergei Prokofiev
Performer:  Nina Postavnicheva (Mezzo Soprano), Tamara Medvedeva (Voice), Gennady Troitzky (Voice),
Yuri Yelnikov (Tenor), Vladimir Makhov (Tenor), Nina Polyakova (Voice),
Viktor Ribinsky (Voice), Lyutsia Rashkovets (Voice), Boris Dobrin (Bass),
Ivan Budrin (Voice), Tamara Yerofeyeva (Voice)
Conductor:  Gemal Dalgat
Orchestra/Ensemble:  All-Union Radio Chorus,  All-Union Radio/TV Large Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1919; USA 

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