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Igor Gorin - Volume 2
Igor Gorin (baritone)
Orchestra/Donald Vorhees (1-6); Orchestra/O’Connell (13); Orchestra/Carmen Dragon (14-21); Adolf Baller (piano) (7-12)
rec. 21-22 November 1939 (7-12); 8 June 1942 (13); 1955 (1-6, 14-21)
NIMBUS PRIMA VOCE NI 7951 [79:30]

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Gioacchino ROSSINI (1792 – 1868)

Il barbiere di Siviglia:
1. Largo al factotum [4:57]
Giuseppe VERDI (1813 – 1901)

La traviata:
2. Di provenza il mar [4:41]
Un ballo in maschera:
3. Eri tu [6:22]
Richard WAGNER (1813 – 1883)

Tannhäuser:
4. O du mein holder Abendstern [4:55]
Jules MASSENET (1842 – 1912)

Hérodiade:
5. Vision fugitive [4:35]
Ruggiero LEONCAVALLO (1858 – 1919)

Pagliacci:
6. Si può (Prologue) [5:29]
Modest MUSSORGSKY (1839 – 1881)

The Nursery:
7. I With Nurse (Tell me a story) [2:44]
8. III The Cockchafer (The beetle) [3:41]
9. IV With the Doll (Dolly’s lullaby) [2:17]
10. V Going to Sleep (Prayer at bedtime) [2:42]
11. VI On the Hobby-horse (The hobby horseman) [3:36]
12. VII The cat Sailor (No, you don’t! Pussy) [3:12]
Dimitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906 – 1975)

13. Song of the United Nations [3:25]
Albert Hay MALOTTE (1895 – 1964)

14. Song of the Open Road [2:47]
Oley SPEAKS (1874 – 1948)

15. Sylvia [3:21]
Rudolf SIECZYNSKI (1879 – 1952)

16. Vienna, City of my Dreams [3:52]
Blanche Ebert SEAVER (b. 1891)

17. Just for Today [3:21]
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685 – 1750)

18. Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring [3:23]
Robert Coningsby CLARKE (1879 – 1934)

19. The Blind Ploughman [3:11]
Luigi DENZA (1846 – 1922)

20. Had You but Known [3:38]
Albert Hay MALOTTE

21. The Lord’s Prayer [3:21]

Born Ignatz Grünberg in Grodek, Ukraine, on 26 October 1904, Igor Gorin had a varied childhood. His father was a rabbi and Ignatz studied in a Talmudic school. His mother died when he was seven and was taken into care, together with a brother and a sister, by an aunt. Through the political unrest they fled to Vienna where Ignatz earned money by cleaning, delivering milk and occasionally teaching. He started to take singing lessons. He gained a scholarship to the Vienna Conservatory following recuperation at a spa following a collapse due to tuberculosis. While continuing his studies in Vienna he was able to see many famous singers at the opera, among them Mattia Battistini, who despite his advanced age was still a superb bel canto singer; he became a model for young Ignatz. He worked as a cantor but his mentor arranged for him to be member of a touring opera company, where he sang many of the great baritone roles. At the suggestion of an agent he changed his name to Igor Gorin and was for some time contracted to an opera house in Czechoslovakia. He also sang in Vienna at the Volksoper. When Hitler came to power in 1933 Gorin managed to flee to the USA on forged documents. He had appeared there before with success but now it took some time before influential people he came to know helped him to secure contracts with several radio stations. In 1937 he was signed by RCA Victor and his recordings became very successful. He met Mary Smith, a radio actress, in 1939 and they married the same year. Gradually several American opera houses opened their doors to him and he sang opposite famous names like Giovanni Martinelli and, much later, Boris Christoff. In 1964, when he was already nearing 60, he was finally offered a contract with the Metropolitan Opera. There he sang Germont in La traviata on 10 February, but this was his only appearance there. The same year he contracted glaucoma which led to the removal of his right eye. His singing career was over but he moved to Tucson and a teaching post at the University of Arizona for some time until he had to retire due to further illness. Igor Gorin died in 1982.

The above information I have culled from Alan Bilgora’s as usual extremely well researched and well-written liner-notes. There is an earlier volume in the Prima Voce series with unusual opera excerpts recorded in the 1930s. I haven’t heard that disc but am familiar with Igor Gorin’s voice from other compilations.

The six standard baritone arias on the present disc were all recorded in 1955. We hear a singer who had been singing professionally for almost thirty years but there is not a trace of deterioration. His breath-control is phenomenal, the tone is beautiful and smooth, a mite darker than in the 1930s and the steadiness is something many singers half his age would envy. He has power in reserve and sings high G naturals effortlessly but what impresses most is the natural flow of lovely sounds and his musical phrasing. His Largo al factotum is a tour de force from beginning to end, Germont’s Provence aria – his signature role – healthy and rounded. In Renato’s Eri tu the desperation and anger come through without any distortion of the musical line. There is a lot of feeling, delivered in long Verdian phrases and with an elegant diminuendo near the end. Wolfram’s song to the Evening Star from Tannhäuser is beautifully sung with deep involvement and impeccable legato. Vision fugitive is impassioned but beautifully nuanced without histrionics and even Tonio’s prologue from Pagliacci, which has been shouted to pieces by sundry stentorian can belto singers, is light and rather elegant. Singing off the words his message still comes over. The legato singing of the memorable phrase Un nido di memorie is disarmingly simple and beautiful.

Mussorgsky’s cycle The Nursery is no doubt one of the most penetrating musical portraits of the world of a child. There have been many recordings through the years in different languages but the original Russian text is preferable. The recording that stands out as the definitive is – to most song lovers – Boris Christoff’s. That this monumental bass can transform his voice to fit into a little child’s is remarkable. But Igor Gorin is not too far behind. His voice is naturally lighter and apart from the cycle being sung in English this is a version that is highly admirable. What a pity that he only recorded six of the seven songs!

Gorin again sings off the words and never overdoes anything. But he is careful with nuances and colours the tone expressively. Sometimes he is soft and inward and the voice is close to a whisper, but in the song about the hobby-horse he is jolly and enthusiastic, bubbling with joy – until he falls and then there is no one in the whole world feeling more miserable. The whole cycle is ample proof, not only of his vocal resources but also of his artistry. The pianist is good and the recorded sound excellent for its time.

I don’t know anything about the background to Shostakovich’s Song of the United Nations and Mr Bilgora has no information either. It is in a way stock-patriotic but the main melody is catchy and it is beautifully sung. Thirteen years later, the same year that he recorded the opera arias, Gorin also set down eight popular songs and ballads. He sings them all with affection but without the tearful delivery of some other singers, whether classically schooled or popular artists. Malotte’s Song of the Open Road is impressive, Speaks’s Sylvia is almost tenoral in his soft reading. No, he isn’t exactly crooning but very close to. Wien du Statt meiner Träume, sung in English like all the other items, is rather straightforward but there is some Viennese lilt and he makes a lovely portamento near the end. Just for Today offers some of the most superb singing on this disc. I searched for some time in Internet before I found any information on the composer, who obviously must be 117 this year. Readers with further knowledge about Blanche Ebert Seaver are welcome with comments on our bulletin board. The song was once recorded by John McCormack.

There is little baroque feeling about Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring but Gorin pours out tone so golden that it’s futile to complain.

The Blind Ploughman is in the track-list attributed to Clark-Hall, which turns out to be the composer Robert Coningsby Clarke and the text-writer Marguerite Radclyffe-Hall. The song is not devoid of sentimentality but Gorin avoids the ‘sob-trap’ and sings with excellent legato, beautiful absolutely steady tone – neutral but not insensitive.

Luigi Denza is best known for the hit-song Funiculi-Funicula, but he wrote a lot more and Had You But Known, usually sung in French, is a fine composition. Gorin sings it slower than I have heard it before but his breath control serves him well and he sustains the legato admirably. Malotte’s The Lord’s Prayer was once frequently heard. Today it is more of a rarity, even though I have sung it in choral arrangements. Gorin gives it an inward reading with fine legato.

Alan Bilgora writes: ‘… one of the most attractive baritone voices ever to have recorded.’ To this I would like to add: ‘… and expressive as well.’

Göran Forsling

 

 

 


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