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Igor Gorin in Opera and Song: Victor Recordings 1938-42
Modest MUSSORGSKY (1839-1881)

Khovanshchina - All is quiet in the camp [5:33]
Hopak [3:12]
Sorochintsy Fair - Reverie of the young peasant [4:16]
The garden by the Don [1:55]
Forgotten [2:21]
Where art thou, little star? [3:42]
Songs and Dances of Death - Lullaby [4:27]; Serenade [4:15]; Trepak [4:35]; The Field-Marshal [4:52]
Alexander GRECHANINOV (1864-1956)

Over the Steppe [3:08]
Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)

None but the lonely heart [3:22]
Karoly GOLDMARK (1830-1915)

Die Königin von Saba - Lift thine eyes [3:48]
Erich Wolfgang KORNGOLD (1897-1957)  
Die Tote Stadt - My Longing, My Yearning [4:52]

Non è ver [4:37]
Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868)  
Il Barbiere di Siviglia - Largo al factotum [4:40]
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) 

Attila - Dagli immortal vertici [4:47]
Ruggero LEONCAVALLO (1858-1919)

Pagliacci - Prologue Si può? Un nido di memorie [5:36]
Igor Gorin (baritone)
Orchestra/Charles O'Connell
Orchestra/Wilfred Pelletier
Orchestra/Bruno Reibold
Max Rabinowitsch (piano)  

I'll leave the question to others as to why the Ukrainian baritone Igor Gorin isn't better known. Born Ignatz Grünberg in 1904 he was the son of a rabbi but soon left for Vienna where, surviving tuberculosis, he studied at the Vienna Conservatory. Appointed Chief Cantor at one of the city's leading synagogues he found a degree of stability before once again embarking on a strictly operatic career, through the good offices of his highly supportive guide and mentor Victor Fuchs. Fritz Busch heard him, liked what he heard, and arranged a Czech contract. But he was still split between his concert and operatic career and his still-continuing cantorial work. Events now conspired to end his European career and in around 1934 he left, with forged papers, for America.

By 1937 he'd signed for RCA Victor and was singing on the radio networks as well as in Chicago and Cincinnati and other houses. He only sang at the Met once, in 1964 - La Traviata. Alan Bilgora's highly informative notes report Gorin as having said that "there were too many politics involved" as the reason he was never asked to return. Eventually ill health took hold - glaucoma and asthma - and he retired to teach, eventually dying in 1982.

This selection of his Victors was made between 1938 and 1942 and represent the voice in its earliest state on recordings. Together it constitutes an impressive body of work and whilst occasionally guilty of some gaucheries what's never in doubt is the sheer beauty of Gorin's tone. A number of the songs are by Mussorgsky and recorded at both ends of the recorded spectrum. The 1938 Hopak is full of broad humour whilst 1942's All is quiet in the camp from Khovanshchina is sung in English. He evokes the melancholy nobility of Sorochintsy Fair's Reverie of the young peasant with quite memorable ardour and yet simplicity of means. The mezza-voce is especially impressive and a rare example of its deployment throughout the disc.

His Songs and Dances of Death are potent and private; note how he lightens the vocal weight in the third, the Trepak, to convey expression with that much more intimacy. But of all the Mussorgsky settings the one I find most irresistible is Where art thou, little star? where Gorin brings such delicacy, sensitivity, warmth and colour to bear on its expressive heartbeat that it simply takes one's breath away.

There are also examples of his way with the Italian repertoire. His Barber is sometimes quixotically done with Gorin going his own way, employing parlando, and taking metrical liberties in the interests of theatrical drama. It might not really work but it's chock full of personality. The Goldmark is unusual as there's no evidence that I'm aware of that he ever sang Die Königin von Saba on stage. Similarly the Korngold Die Tote Stadt extract, which was never issued at the time and survived in a test pressing. Both are sung in strongly-accented English.

The Victors are all in first class shape and Nimbus's transfer system has done well by them. Occasionally one may note a degree of insistence in the recorded spectrum but by and large the transfers are unproblematic. This is a most diverting and perceptive recital and one hopes it will garner Gorin some new admirers - and more reissues.

Jonathan Woolf


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