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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


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Modest MUSSORGSKY (1839-1881)
Boris Godunov - Highlights. Sung in German
Boris, Theo Adam (bass); Pimen, Siegfried Vogel (bass); Marina, Hannelore Kuhse (sop); Grigori, Martin Ritzmann (ten); Rangoni, Wilfried Schaal (bass); Simpleton, Peter Schreier (ten); Feodor, Roswitha Trexler (sop)
Leipzig Radio Chorus
Orchestra of the Staatskapelle Dresden/Herbert Kegel
Recorded Lukaskirche, Dresden, 1970
BERLIN CLASSICS ETERNA 0032622BC [52.41]


Excerpts from Boris are not exactly thick on the ground in the UK catalogue since the deletion, some time ago, of the Erato issue featuring Raimondi as Boris and Rostropovich conducting. With that in mind, as well as for its own virtues, I warmly welcomed the Cala issue of Stokowski directing scenes from the opera with Nicola Rossi-Lemeni as both Boris and Pimen; the review appears elsewhere on this site. That issue was of the Rimsky orchestration, whereas this issue, of similar length, is of the Shostakovich that purists feel is somewhat truer to the composer’s original melodic construction. That is as maybe, but what is certain is that whatever version is used, it loses much of its essential Russian character if, as here, it is sung in another language, in this case German. John Tomlinson, the renowned British bass-baritone, who has sung Boris in Russian and English, contends that the Russian language in its construction and vocal production is particularly helpful to the bass voice in projection and characterisation, sentiments with which I agree wholeheartedly. I have admiration for Theo Adam as a singer, but to my ears he is tonally and stylistically unsuited to the part of Boris as represented on this disc albeit it is a role he has sung on stage, perhaps in German also. The supporting cast are all adequate whilst the recording is vivid, and the conducting and chorus are vibrant.

The summary synopsis in the booklet is excellent and with other background material is in English and German. It could easily and gainfully have been track related. This disc is really only for Boris addicts or those wanting to sample particular singers or the version.

Robert J Farr

 



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