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Igor Gorin - Volume 2
rec. 21-22 November 1939 (7-12); 8 June 1942 (13); 1955 (1-6, 14-21)

Experience Classicsonline

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)

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

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

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]
Igor Gorin (baritone)
Orchestra/Donald Vorhees (1-6); Orchestra/O’Connell (13); Orchestra/Carmen Dragon (14-21); Adolf Baller (piano) (7-12)


This is a companion disc to NI7937, which I reviewed back in January 2007. I’ll begin by repeating the question I posed there and a few brief biographical notes. I began by wondering why Gorin wasn’t better known in the wider world, something that seemed inexplicable given the outstanding quality of his recordings.  I leave the rhetorical question in the air once more.

He was born Ignatz Grünberg in 1904 in the Ukraine, 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. His contract with RCA came in 1937.

The recordings in this set vary. Some come from early in that RCA contract – the 1939 Mussorgsky set, a single side of Shostakovich from 1942 and the remainder from 1955.  By this time of course the voice has darkened somewhat, certainly from the earlier volume, which was made up entirely of material recorded between 1938 and 1942, though there has been no – or very little - technical degradation in the intervening years.

His Rossini isn’t saddled with too many nods and winks, not as ripely or richly characterised therefore as some but immensely personable nonetheless The extract from La Traviata is eloquent and controlled. The way his voice darkens in Eri tu, with incipient gravity and edge, is notable, so too the attractively spun Wagner. The sole example of his French repertoire, Vision fugitive, is resplendently executed, whilst the refined and liquid portamenti in the Pagliacci is an example of his nuanced singing as well as tact and taste in this repertoire. As his Barber showed Gorin is not one to overdo things. 

We then encounter Mussorgsky’s The Nursery with pianist Adolf Baller. The acoustic is dry but the singing is not.  Gorin sings in English though disappointingly he omits the second song. There were only six sides allocated to this set, Victor 4528-30, so something obviously had to go but how regrettable that they didn’t allocate eight sides and get Gorin and Baller to add another song as a pendant – wartime shellac shortages or not.  Boris Christoff’s I suppose is the name most associated with this cycle but Gorin secures a powerful place in the discography of the work with his very different performance. His almost parlando style, confiding and expressive, illuminates all corners of the cycle. He can also cultivate a light, open tone as well, intimate, conversational, unforced. Or he can be soothingly mellifluous, as in Going to Sleep or else geeing-up in On the hobby-horse.

The rest of the programme is rather miscellaneous. Shostakovich’s Song of the United Nations is a confident march and Malotte’s Song of the Open Road is hearty; it’s a Peter Dawson sort of a song but the Gorin treatment comes emblazoned with showbiz brass. Tauber’s shade hangs over the Sieczynski song, Vienna City of my Dreams whilst in the Bach Gorin goes in for some bel canto.

Miscellaneous the programme as a whole may be but it reflects well, yet again, on Gorin. He had the voice, flair and personality. The transfers here carry on the good work established in the first volume.

Jonathan Woolf

see also review by Goran Forsling


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