on 25 April 2006
However have Regis done it again, another Russian masterpiece for such a low price? This wonderful budget interpretation of Boris Godunov is so effortlessly pulled off, the story is carried off wonderfully by the perfectly cast singers, each seems to comfortable in their role.
I would only recommend this if you're a Russophile, love Mussorgsky, know this story off by heart (I recommend seeing it before buying this recording, the notes only gloss the story) are extremely emotive as this opera packs it all, the death of Boris is perhaps the most perfect part of this entire opera. Clear sound quality, but as I say, the notes only gloss over the rough outline of the story - if you don't know the story you might not get the hilarity of the drinking scene....
As long as you don't mind the Rimsky-Korsakov/Ippolitov-Ivanov orchestration version of this opera, there is every good reason to buy it. Purists and aficionados will still want to own the 5 CD set conducted by Gergiev, also with an all-Russian cast, as it offers both the original (rejected) 1869 and 1872 revision/expansion in Mussorgsky's own, spare orchestration but this is a bargain issue with a stellar cast steeped in the authentic Russian tradition and idiom. Furthermore it is hyper-complete, in that it offers ten scenes, incorporating the Prologue, epilogue in the Kromy Forest and even the St Basil scene in which the simpleton confronts Tsar Boris with his guilt - a short episode often omitted in performances of the second version.
There are no weaknesses in the cast, playing or Ermler's conducting; indeed the recording faithfully reflects the strength in depth of the Bolshoi of thirty years ago. Apart from established stars such as the mightily impressive Nesterenko as Boris, the stentorian Otello-tenor Atlantov as the Pretender Grigory and the equally stentorian-voiced Obratsova as the Polish Princess Marina, we have major singers like lyric baritone Mazurok in the comparatively minor role of Rangoni and singers I suspect that not many people have heard of, such as the Pimen and the Varlaam, who prove to have superb voices and highly developed dramatic ability. The inclusion of the Polish scene is especially welcome as it proves to be a real highlight, with Obratsova and Atlantov belting out their extended duet and rising to great heights in the climax of their passion.
There's no beating native Russians in their own music and it's a pleasure to report that the old bugbear of scrappy sound does not apply to this analogue recording, which is full, pleasing and well-balanced.
Those on a budget wanting a traditional performance or just tempted by a supplementary version need not hesitate. As much as I admire Nesterenko's big, smooth voice and convincing vocal acting, I still also want to hear other equally and even more histrionic singer-actors such as Christoff in his 1952 tour de force under Dobrowen, the great and incomparable Mark Reizen in 1948 under Golovanov and George London's excerpts under Thomas Schippers made in 1961 (see my reviews for the latter two). "Boris Godunov" seems more and more of a masterpiece as the years go by and owning several versions now seems less of a luxury, especially as they can encompass and reflect the range of performance choices in edition and orchestration which have to be made.
on 2 August 2014
These CDs digitalized from some analogue tapes. Although initially this recording was digital and made in 1985, not 1982. It was released for the first time on CD in 1986 and now it is great rarity. So the present issue is not original master recording. However it sounds not bad, but you can hear the tape was not in ideal condition. You can clearly hear some tape defects sometimes and hiss level is biggish. But if you didn'n hear original, this issue sounds good.