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Mussorgsky: Boris Godunov (excerpts), Pictures at an Exhibition [Original recording remastered]

The Philadelphia Orchestra, George London Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Product details

  • Performer: George London
  • Conductor: Thomas Schippers
  • Composer: Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky
  • Audio CD (19 Jun 2006)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Original recording remastered
  • Label: Sony Classical - Columbia
  • ASIN: B000F6YW2Q
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 334,182 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song TitleArtist Time Price
Listen  1. Prologue, Scene 2 (The square in the Moscow Kremlin): Da zdrávstvuyet Tsar Borís Feódorovich! [Prince Shuiski: Long live Tsar Boris Feodorovich!]Bliss Hebert 1:52£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  2. Scenes from Boris Godunov: Uzh kak na nébe sólntsu krásnomu [Even as glory to the radiant sun]Bliss Hebert 2:48£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. Scenes from Boris Godunov: Skorbit dushá! [My soul is torn with anguish!]Bliss Hebert 3:17£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. Scenes from Boris Godunov: Sláva! [Glory!]Bliss Hebert 1:28£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  5. Scenes from Boris Godunov: Boris' Monologue from Act II: Dostig ya vïsshey vlasti [I have attained the highest power]Bliss Hebert 6:01£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  6. Scenes from Boris Godunov: Dialogue and Hallucination Scene from Act II: Ty zachém? [What do you want?]Bliss Hebert 1:02£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  7. Velíkii gosudár, chelóm byu [Mighty lord...]Bliss Hebert 5:52£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  8. Scenes from Boris Godunov: Ne kázen strashná, strashná tvoyá nemílost [It is not death that is hard to bear...]Bliss Hebert 1:44£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  9. Scenes from Boris Godunov: Uf tyazheló! [God, how stifling it's become!]Bliss Hebert 3:45£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen10. Scenes from Boris Godunov: Bori's Farewell to his Son and Death of Boris from Act IV: Scene II: Ostav'te nas! Ujdite vse! [Need english translation] (Excerpts)Bliss Hebert 6:33£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen11. Scenes from Boris Godunov: Zvon!...Pogrebálnyi zvon! [Listen! It's ringing!...The funeral bell is ringing!] (Excerpts)Bliss Hebert 4:11£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen12. Pictures at an Exhibition: Promenade. Allegro giusto, nel modo russico; senza allegrezza, ma poco sostenutoEugene Ormandy 1:33£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen13. Pictures at an Exhibition: I. Gnomus (The Gnome). VivoEugene Ormandy 2:37£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen14. Pictures at an Exhibition: Promenade. Moderato comodo assai e con delicatezzaEugene Ormandy0:55£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen15. Pictures at an Exhibition: II. Il vecchio castello (The Old Castle). Andante molto cantabile e con doloreEugene Ormandy 4:32£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen16. Pictures at an Exhibition: Promenade. Moderato non tanto, pesamenteEugene Ormandy0:31£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen17. Pictures at an Exhibition: III. Tuileries (Dispute between Children at Play). Allegretto non troppo, capricciosoEugene Ormandy 1:01£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen18. Pictures at an Exhibition: IV. Bydlo (Cattle). Sempre moderato, pesanteEugene Ormandy 2:16£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen19. Pictures at an Exhibition: Promenade. TranquilloEugene Ormandy0:42£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen20. Pictures at an Exhibition: V. Ballet des petits poussins dans leurs coques (Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks). Scherzino. Vivo leggieroEugene Ormandy 1:14£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen21. Pictures at an Exhibition: VI. Samuel Goldenburg and Schmuyle. AndanteEugene Ormandy 2:20£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen22. VII. Limoges: le marché (The Market Place of Limoges). Allegretto vivo, sempre scherzandoEugene Ormandy 1:25£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen23. Pictures At An Exhibition: VIII. Catacombae: Sepulchrum Romanum (Catacombs: A Roman Grave). LargoEugene Ormandy 1:41£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen24. Pictures at an Exhibition: Cum mortuis in lingua morta (With the Dead in a Dead Language). Andante non troppo, con lamentoEugene Ormandy 1:42£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen25. Pictures at an Exhibition: IX. La cabane de Baba-Yaga sur des pattes de poule (The Hut of Baba-Yaga on Chicken's Legs). Allegro con brio, feroce - Andante mossoEugene Ormandy 3:43£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen26. Pictures at an Exhibition: X. La grande porte de Kiev (The Great Gate of Kiev). Maestoso, con grandezzaEugene Ormandy 4:51£0.99  Buy MP3 

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By Ralph Moore TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
This is a record on which everything works: the performances, the engineering, the programming - and, mirabile dictu, all at a bargain price.

If you do not have George London's complete 1963 recording of "Boris", these excerpts of his finest role, honed to perfection over ten years until it became one of the most affecting and spine-chilling characterisations of the tortured tsar you could ever wish to hear, form an excellent alternative. It is no surprise to learn that London was Birgit Nilsson's favourite singing partner; that magnificent bass-baritone encompasses every facet of the more complex 1872 version of Boris (in Rimsky-Korsakov's orchestration,of course - not that that matters). He fines his huge voice down for the tender moments, inflects the words with groans and cries without offending musicality and is truly frightening in his anguished delusions. (Is it too fanciful to remark that, given that London died prematurely from heart disease, there is a poignant, proleptic significance in the authenticity of London's acting of Boris' collapse and death?) The liner notes are a charming, informative and perceptive essay by London himself; I only wish space had been found for a libretto. As a performance, I certainly do not find his interpretation inferior to that of such distinguished colleagues as Christoff or Talvela.

The conducting of Thomas Schippers - another great artist whose career was cut short by his death from lung cancer aged 46 - is as vital and responsive as one could wish. The orchestral playing is sonorous and flexible. The chorus are willing if a little well-mannered and lacking Russian vibrancy - but that matters little; this is London's show, although his supporting singers are more than adequate.
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Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  14 reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Fine "Boris" Excerpts, a "Pictures" to Treasure 4 Aug 2006
By M. C. Passarella - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
The "Great Performances" sobriquet certainly applies to the Philadelphia version of "Pictures at an Exhibition." Ormandy is sometimes accused of stodginess, and that was probably true of his recordings from the RCA and especially the EMI years, but here he chooses tempi that are just right, probably a little fast, in fact, for Bydlo, the lumbering ox-cart. But with virtuoso playing from low strings and the tuba player, this is not merely a valid approach but an arresting one. The balances and the color Ormandy extracts from the orchestra are enhanced by a recording that I find frankly amazing. Many fine Philadelphia performances from the mid-sixties were done in by the Columbia engineers, who provided coarse, blowsy sound. This is true, for instance of Ormandy's otherwise successful Nielsen recordings. But here the sound, while bigger than life in typical Columbia fashion, is very real in timbre, and the ambience is entirely believable as well. Percussion is very much front and center but without any impression of spotlighting. In fact, detail is admirably clear from top to bottom; this is an excellent sound recording by any standards. Certainly, Ormandy's "Pictures" can be placed alongside other classic recordings such as Reiner's, if not at the top of any short list of such recordings.

The recording of excerpts from Boris Godunov is fine as well, though not indispensable. This is really a showcase for George London's talents, and as such it is remarkable. The other soloists are fine, but this is really London's show. The well-regarded Thomas Schippers shows that he was a fine opera conductor, securing first-rate playing from the Columbia Symphony and alert and enthusiastic if not especially idiomatically Russian singing from the chorus. The sound is pretty remarkable for 1961 as well, and Sony's transfer is beyond cavil, even if they couldn't do anything to reduce the bit of tape hiss that is part and parcel of many 60s recordings.

So at Sony's mid-price, you get one of the best "Pictures" ever recorded, in sound that is unexpectedly brilliant. Add to that a very attractive selection of music from Mussorgsky's greatest opera, and you have a real deal, in my estimation.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Boris returns at last. 18 Oct 2002
By Alan Montgomery - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
With this reissue the classic Boris of George London returns to the catalogue at last. I grew up on this recording, and have loved it since it was first issued. London towers above a strong cast. My preference is for his Boris over that of Christoff, but that is because Christoff always sounds like Christoff. Irina Archipova is a wonderful Marina. She isn't subtle, but she makes her point. Mark Reizen as Pimen is a smooth singer, and contrasts well with London's dark timbre. The other singers may have rough edges, but their vitality make up for some wobbles. Melik-Pashaev conducts a slightly cut performance of the Rimsky-Korsakov score, which blazes with intensity. Although I swear by the Mussorgsky original orchestration, I find this performance well worth the trip back to the Rimsky edition.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Return of a Classic Boris 14 Jan 2003
By Andrew - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
This is the recording of Boris that I grew up listening to, and much to my delight it still stands up very nicely against recent releases and other re-releases. George London makes a marvelous Boris, his singing is deeply moving and inciteful. In particular that "Clock" scene and the "Death Of Boris" scene are magnificent. The only negative I have is that London was not a true bass, he was a bass-bartione, so to me he always lacks that firm, dark bottom that is so important to the role. For examples of how I think this should sound (again, just my opinion)listen to Anatoly Kotcherga on the Abbado set and, in particular, the great Russian bass Mark Reizen on the Bolshoi set that was recently re-released. Other that the slight lack of "weight" London is perfect, his characterization of the role is absolutely moving and heartbreaking. The other singers are all excellent, particularly Irina Arkhipova are Marina (she seemed to sing this role for about thirty years, as she appears on virtually all recordings between the late fifties and the early eighties) The other two principle basses are very solid, as his the Shuisky and the Pretender.
All in all I heartily reccomend this set.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finest Pictures at an Exhibition ever? 14 Jun 2006
By SwissDave - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I'm truly glad Ormandy's legendary recording has become available again. Although I will probably always listen to the original piano version of Pictures (Janis, Horowitz, Richter) more often than Ravel's adaption for orchestra, whereas Reiner's interpretation is made to impress, this I believe is the one to fall head over heels for.

Schippers's 1961 Scenes from Boris Godunov with London (most impressive as Boris), Allen, Fried and Kolk that, at least so far as the cover is concerned, seem to get top billing in this release, are really growing on me, too, by the way - so much so I almost always play the disc complete, and only occasionally Ormandy's Pictures exclusively. Compares very favourably to that famous recording of the (actually not quite) complete opera, you know, the one with Boris as Boris, I mean, the one with Christoff, Christoff and (who else?) Christoff... ;^)

Greetings from Switzerland, David.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A gorgeous accuont of 'Pictures' from Ormandy's salad days 15 Jun 2006
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Although far from being universally esteemed by critics, Ormandy was beloved by audiences, and this Pictures at an Exhibition shows why. The playing by the Philadelphia Orch. is incredibly plush and easy to listen to, although Ormandy's penchant for blandness keeps the music's tension down. As remastered here, the original CBS sonics do full justice to the playing--from the first Promenade one is aware that so far as execution goes, Ormandy's reading can stand up to Reiner's classic recording with the Chicago Sym. on RCA. Musically, however, Reiner is much more incisive and dramatic.

George London made headlines in the Cold War as the first American to be invited to sing the role of Boris Godunov in the Soviet Union, and these excerpts from the opera demonstrate his beautiful tone and rock-solid intonation, without a trace of wobble. London doesn't try for Boris Christoff's scenery-chewing anguish (who could hope to match that?), but in its resonance and richness, this is a treasurable recording. Schippers accompanies well enough.
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