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Mussorgsky: Complete Songs / Boris Christoff


Release Date: 07/29/2010 
Label:  Emi Great Recordings Of The Century Catalog #: 63025   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Alexandre LabinskyBoris ChristoffGerald Moore
Conductor:  Georges Tzipine
Orchestra/Ensemble:  French National Radio Orchestra
Number of Discs: 3 
Recorded in: Mono 
Length: 3 Hours 12 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Undoubtedly one of the all-time glories of the gramophone -- it gives one a marvelous idea of the range and variety of Mussorgsky's writing and leaves one almost speechless at the virtuosity of Christoff.

This set, unavailable on LP in this country for many years, is undoubtedly one of the all-time glories of the gramophone; it should be in any worthwhile song collection. Listening through the set without interruption gives one a marvellous idea of the range and variety of Mussorgsky's writing and leaves one almost speechless at the virtuosity of Christoff. This is unquestionably the bass's most important legacy and I hope now that it reappears in these excellent CD transfers it will have greater success than when it
Read more was first issued in LP form some thirty years ago; it deserves as much.

Mussorgsky's range of characterization is veritably Dostoyevskian. Even on the first disc, in the earlier and slightly less remarkable songs, the composer offers a range of personalities and emotions as then unknown in Russian song. There are the war-like King Saul, the sad figure of Wilhelm Meister in the Song of the Old Man (what we know as "An die Tiiren"), the desolate landscape of The Wind Howls, the folk-hero Calistratus. Then we hear a wide variety of styles from the recitative-like Cast-off Woman to the gentle lyricism of Night. In this last song Christoff produces that magical mezzo voce of his to suggest the intimacy of the loved one portrayed within. But, by then—the eleventh song—he has already given us an amazing palette of sound-colours, everything from the utterly ferocious to the gentlest whisper.

With the second disc, we come to many of the better-known songs but few of them have ever been better interpreted than here. In Hopak, the bass has a rollicking time of it, relishing every word. In Savishna, a wonderfully vivid song, he subtly portrays the idiot. He catches the bitter satire of The Classicist and the humour of The Seminarist, where the Latin recitation is gleefully projected. The rather weak Puppet Show is almost saved here by Christotl"s identity with its twists of irony. Then he can change style again to produce a hypnotically sweet tone for Evening Song, a tender lyric built on only five notes. But the centrepiece of this disc is, of course, the Nursery cycle, where Christoff manages to adapt his big tone for a convincing impersonation of a small boy. I also like the way he finds yet other voices for the Nurse and for the Mother. Indeed he characterizes so pointedly that one can really believe he is before one making the appropriate facial grimaces. This is a tour de force.

Similarly rewarding are his performances of the Sunless and Songs and Dances of Death cycles. He catches all the bleak gloom of the first, the histrionic force of the second, where his variety of timbre is once more astonishing, but in the Songs and Dances he uses a corrupt orchestration. Mussorgsky wanted to orchestrate this set, but he would surely have done it a different way, Rimsky and others often altered and softened Mussorgsky's harmonies; it is surprising that such a sensitive artist as Christoff didn't realize that. After these two cycles, Mussorgsky's inspiration seemed to falter, though On the Dnieper, a lyrical piece of surpassing beauty, and the ever-popular Song of the Flea, which ends the set, are remarkable achievements in their way and are here excellently interpreted. Labinsky is a vivid and imaginative partner, although the recording favours the voice-and quite right too.

-- Gramophone [8/1989]

The orchestrations are by Rimsky-Korsakov, Glazunov and Labinsky.
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Works on This Recording

1. The garden by the Don by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Alexandre Labinsky (Piano), Boris Christoff (Bass)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1867; Russia 
Language: Russian 
2. Evening song by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Alexandre Labinsky (Piano), Boris Christoff (Bass)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1871; Russia 
Language: Russian 
3. But if I could meet thee again by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Alexandre Labinsky (Piano), Boris Christoff (Bass)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1863; Russia 
Language: Russian 
4. On the Dnieper by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Alexandre Labinsky (Piano), Boris Christoff (Bass)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1866/1879; Russia 
Language: Russian 
5. Forgotten by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Alexandre Labinsky (Piano), Boris Christoff (Bass)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1874; Russia 
Language: Russian 
6. Sadly rustled the leaves by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Gerald Moore (Piano), Boris Christoff (Bass)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1859; Russia 
Date of Recording: 1951 
Language: Russian 
7. Where art thou, little star? by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Alexandre Labinsky (Piano), Boris Christoff (Bass)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1857/1858; Russia 
Language: Russian 
8. Hour of jollity by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Boris Christoff (Bass), Alexandre Labinsky (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1858/1859; Russia 
Language: Russian 
9. Tell me why by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Boris Christoff (Bass), Alexandre Labinsky (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1858; Russia 
Language: Russian 
10. I have many palaces and gardens by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Boris Christoff (Bass), Alexandre Labinsky (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1863; Russia 
Language: Russian 
11. What are words of love to you? by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Alexandre Labinsky (Piano), Boris Christoff (Bass)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1860; Russia 
Language: Russian 
12. King Saul by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Boris Christoff (Bass)
Conductor:  Georges Tzipine
Orchestra/Ensemble:  French National Radio Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1863; Russia 
Language: Russian 
13. Old man's song by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Boris Christoff (Bass), Alexandre Labinsky (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1863; Russia 
Language: Russian 
14. The wild winds blow by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Boris Christoff (Bass)
Conductor:  Georges Tzipine
Orchestra/Ensemble:  French National Radio Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1864; Russia 
Language: Russian 
15. Night by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Boris Christoff (Bass), Alexandre Labinsky (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1864/1868; Russia 
Language: Russian 
16. Kalistratushka by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Boris Christoff (Bass), Alexandre Labinsky (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1864; Russia 
Language: Russian 
17. Salammbô: Balearic Song by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Boris Christoff (Bass), Alexandre Labinsky (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1863-1866; Russia 
Language: Russian 
18. Prayer by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Boris Christoff (Bass), Alexandre Labinsky (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1865; Russia 
Language: Russian 
19. The outcast by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Boris Christoff (Bass), Alexandre Labinsky (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1865; Russia 
Language: Russian 
20. Lullaby by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Boris Christoff (Bass), Alexandre Labinsky (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1865; Russia 
Language: Russian 
21. Dear one, why are thine eyes sometimes so cold? by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Boris Christoff (Bass), Alexandre Labinsky (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1866; Russia 
Language: Russian 
22. From my tears by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Boris Christoff (Bass), Alexandre Labinsky (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1866; Russia 
Language: Russian 
23. Hopak by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Boris Christoff (Bass)
Conductor:  Georges Tzipine
Orchestra/Ensemble:  French National Radio Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1866/1868; Russia 
Language: Russian 
24. Savichna by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Boris Christoff (Bass), Alexandre Labinsky (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Language: Russian 
25. Sunless by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Boris Christoff (Bass), Alexandre Labinsky (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1874; Russia 
Language: Russian 
26. The seminarist by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Boris Christoff (Bass), Alexandre Labinsky (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1866; Russia 
Language: Russian 
27. Hebrew song by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Boris Christoff (Bass), Alexandre Labinsky (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1867; Russia 
Language: Russian 
28. The magpie by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Boris Christoff (Bass), Alexandre Labinsky (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1867; Russia 
Language: Russian 
29. Gathering mushrooms by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Boris Christoff (Bass), Alexandre Labinsky (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1867; Russia 
Language: Russian 
30. The feast by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Boris Christoff (Bass), Alexandre Labinsky (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1867; Russia 
Language: Russian 
31. The ragamuffin by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Boris Christoff (Bass), Alexandre Labinsky (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1867; Russia 
Language: Russian 
32. The he-goat by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Boris Christoff (Bass), Alexandre Labinsky (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1867; Russia 
Language: Russian 
33. The classicist by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Boris Christoff (Bass), Alexandre Labinsky (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1874; Russia 
Language: Russian 
34. The orphan by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Boris Christoff (Bass), Alexandre Labinsky (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1868; Russia 
Language: Russian 
35. Child's song by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Boris Christoff (Bass), Alexandre Labinsky (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1868; Russia 
Language: Russian 
36. The nursery by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Boris Christoff (Bass), Alexandre Labinsky (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1868-1872; Russia 
Language: Russian 
37. Eremushka's Lullaby by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Boris Christoff (Bass), Alexandre Labinsky (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1868; Russia 
Language: Russian 
38. The peepshow by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Boris Christoff (Bass), Alexandre Labinsky (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1870; Russia 
Language: Russian 
39. Songs and dances of death by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Boris Christoff (Bass)
Conductor:  Georges Tzipine
Orchestra/Ensemble:  French National Radio Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1875-1877; Russia 
Language: Russian 
40. Epitaph by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Alexandre Labinsky (Piano), Boris Christoff (Bass)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1874; Russia 
Language: Russian 
41. The sphinx by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Alexandre Labinsky (Piano), Boris Christoff (Bass)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1875; Russia 
Language: Russian 
42. Not like thunder, trouble struck by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Boris Christoff (Bass), Alexandre Labinsky (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1877; Russia 
Language: Russian 
43. Softly the spirit flew up to heaven by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Boris Christoff (Bass), Alexandre Labinsky (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1877; Russia 
Language: Russian 
44. Is spinning man's work? by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Boris Christoff (Bass), Alexandre Labinsky (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1877; Russia 
Language: Russian 
45. It scatters and breaks by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Boris Christoff (Bass), Alexandre Labinsky (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1877; Russia 
Language: Russian 
46. The vision by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Boris Christoff (Bass), Alexandre Labinsky (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1877; Russia 
Language: Russian 
47. Pride by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Boris Christoff (Bass), Alexandre Labinsky (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1877; Russia 
Language: Russian 
48. The wanderer by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Boris Christoff (Bass), Alexandre Labinsky (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1878; Russia 
Language: Russian 
49. Mephistopheles' song of the flea by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Boris Christoff (Bass)
Conductor:  Georges Tzipine
Orchestra/Ensemble:  French National Radio Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1879; Russia 
Language: Russian 

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