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Ivan PETROV (b.1920)
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)

I Lombardi alla prima crociata: E anchor silenzio
Nabucco: Tu sul labbro dei veggenti - Zaccaria´s Invocation
Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)

Mazeppa: The three Treasures - Kochubey´s Aria
Nicolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV (1844-1908)

The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh and Maiden Fevronia: Oh vain illusion of glory
Amilcare PONCHIELLI (1834-1886)

La Gioconda: Si,moror ella de! - The Alvise´s Aria (Sung in Russian)
Léo DELIBES (1836-1891)

Lakmé: Lakmé! ton doux regard - Nilankantha´s Aria (Sung in Russian)

Rusalka: You young girls are all alike - The Miller’s Aria
Charles GOUNOD (1818-1893)

Faust: Le veau d´or - Mephistopheles´ Serenade
Faust: Vous qui faites l’endormi - Mephistopheles´ Serenade
Alexander BORODIN (1833-1887)

Prince Igor: Are you well, Prince? - Khan Konchak´s Aria
Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943)

Aleko:The moon is high in the sky - Aleko´s Aria
Francesca da Rimini: There is no means to fight jealousy´s blazing flames - Lanceotto´s Monologue

Power of Evil: Merry Shrovetide - Yeryomka´s Song
Mikhail GLINKA (1804-1857)

Ruslan and Ludmilla: O say, ye fields! - Ruslan´s Aria
Ivan Petrov (bass) with
Orchestra of the Bolshoi Theatre/Kiril Kondrashin, Mark Ermler, Boris Khaikin, Michail Shukov, Vassili Nebolsin, Vladimir Fedoseyev
USSR Radio Orchestra/Samuel Samosud, Nicolai Golovanov and Vassili Nebolsin
Undated [c.1948-53?]
PREISER 89588 [74.45]


The vivid and dramatic bass Ivan Petrov will be well known to many from his complete LP traversals of a chunk of Russian and Franco-Italian repertoire. As well as the expected fare of Onegin, Prince Igor, Aleko, Aida and Roméo et Juliette – there were many more – he may also be remembered via his advocacy of Shaporin’s uneven but eventful The Decembrists. His debut was in 1943 and his first recordings followed soon after. A generation younger than Reizen and Alexander Pirogov he nevertheless had to bide his time, finding international success in the 1950s with tours to Scandinavia, Japan, America and Germany during which he visited most western capitals. He retired from the operatic stage at the young age of fifty.

Given that a number of his operatic roles have been released recently – Preiser themselves have released The Decembrists and Guild is delving into his discography – this is a more than useful adjunct to his more extended roles. Note for instance that La Gioconda seems to derive from the highlights (not complete) set of the 1950s but that Prince Igor isn’t the 1969 Ermler-led complete recording that admirers will know. This is an excerpt with Boris Khaikin conducting and presumably comes from at least a decade or a decade and a half earlier.

Questions of attribution and discography are nevertheless problematic because none of the sides are dated and no release numbers are attached to them. If we sift the ground though we find his graphic power intact in Ruslan and Ludmilla (power yes but listen to its magical withdrawal as the aria develops). Petrov had unmistakeable presence and a forthright, focused core; he’s one of those singers whose personality survives the limitations of recording; indeed seems to thrive on, or is indifferent to them. His Nabucco is regal and commanding, Rusalka nicely characterised, knowing, absorbent of the folk elements. He does his best in Faust but this is a shaggy old recording, recorded in an aircraft hanger of an acoustic – Khaikin conducting can do nothing to mitigate it but he could have whipped the band into line.

Petrov catches, ideally, the lilt of the Ponchielli – rhythm is splendid, the voice is in fresh estate. If you tire of Khaikin’s conducting you can always try Golovanov – those swoony strings and that evocatively big boned accompaniment in Aleko will drive aesthetes mad. Me, I loved it. It’s effulgent, romantic, imprecise, draining and irresistible. We end with lighter fare and the Serov song. It shows how adroitly Petrov could modulate his big personality and how sensitively he could shape. He still has important things to say and these good transfers of sometimes problematic originals (good but not excellent) will prove exciting listening.

Jonathan Woolf


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