Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Sergei Leiferkus, Monte Pederson, Heinz Zednik Larissa D Richard Margison|
Tchaikovsky - Mazeppa / Leiferkus · Gorchakova · Kotscherga · Dyadkova · Larin · Pederson · Margison · Zednik · Neeme Järvi
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David A. Hollingsworth | Washington, DC USA | 01/06/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As a composer of twelve operas, Piotr Illyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) was behind Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov in the matter of importance and influence in the development of Russian operas. We know Tchaikovsky as a composer of orchestral works and ballets. However, among the real essences of Tchaikovsky was his operas. Whereas Pique Dame and Yevgeni Onegin has their occassion appearances on opera/theatrical stages, his other operas continue to be neglected (with some exceptions in Russia). Mazeppa, the three act opera of 1884 strikes me as a bold, dark yet honest theatrical work: the opera which is part history and part romance (between Andrey and Maria). Based on Alexander Pushkin's epic poem "Poltava", Tchaikovsky's "Mazeppa" is nationalistic as well as personal and Act II is the most gripping of the three. Whereas some people deemed "Mazeppa" as hardly as memorable as Tchaikovsky's famous orchestral compositions, "Mazeppa" contains outflows of fine musical passages and retained the daring, dynamic, honest communicative essences of the composer. "Mazeppa" is to my mind a masterpiece.Neemi Jarvi, the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, and the Chorus of the Royal Opera (Stockholm) demonstrate of how much they thought of Mazeppa. Nothing but upmost admiration is at presence here and the recording is by far a model one. What is equally significant and pleasing was the quality of the singing. Galina Gorchakova as Maria brought the warm, sentimental femininity to her role whereas Larissa Dyadkova (the Irina Arkhipova of the 1990s) was convincing in bringing the maternal side as Lyubov, Maria's mother. Lyubov represents strength and wisdom and Larissa Dyadkova was sucessful in portraying those qualities as well. Sergei Leiferkus bought out the sterness of Mazeppa, the leader of the Ukranian cossacks, and Anatoly Kotscherga was telling in his role as Kochubey, Maria's father who were betrayed by Mazeppa. I especially admire the ending of scene I (Act II) where Kotscherga was remarkably real in portraying the vengence, the defiance, the anger of Kochubey. Sergei Larin gave his role as Andrey a passionate voice and Heinz Zednik added a marvellous humor as a Drunken Cossack. Richard Margison (as Iskra) and Monte Pederson (as Orlik) were also compelling.Only Vasily Nebolsin and the Bolshoi Theater Orchestra and Chorus gave ultimately a thrilling performance of the work before Jarvi's recording. Alexander Ivanov (as Mazeppa) and Ivan Petrov (as Kochubey) were among forgotten legends as Russian opera singers. Ivanov bought out more of the deviance of Mazeppa and Nina Pokrovskaya was excellent in her portrayal of Maria (somewhat bringing out the stronger side of her persona). I truly hope for the re-issue of their orginal Melodiya LP recording of 1952. However, among the currently available recordings of "Mazeppa", Jarvi's version is first-rate and therefore, a first choice, although Gergiev's performance with the Kirov Orchestra and Chorus is a close runner-up. Recommendable, and with no regrets!"
tenor_in_training | 03/23/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Recently all sorts of awards and praises have been bestowed upon Valery Gergiev's recent live recording of Mazeppa. While it is really good, I have to recommend this Neeme Jarvi's set over it. The main reason is innovative casting. Sergei Leiferkus at first appears to have too young sounding and too light of a baritone for the title character. But that's not true at all. His voice is ideal for communicating the menacing simultaneously with romantic qualities of the Hetman, a very complicated character one would love to hate. In contrast to rough all-out rendition provided by Putilin for Gergiev, Leiferkus is consistently noble and subtle, making the character an intriguing three-dimensional figure. The spectacular Kirov spinto soprano Galina Gorchakova sings his love interest, Maria, with passion and wise restraint of her very powerful voice to emphasize Maria's youth and impulsiveness. To complete the fateful triangle, Sergei Larin beautifully sings the role of ardent Cossack Andrei. Great Ukrainian bass Anatoly Kotcherga is Maria's father Kotchubey, his characterization is appropriately tragic and moving, particularly in Act II Prison Scene. And Maria's mother Lyubov is Larissa Diadkova, a rising star among mezzos with rich resonant sound, indeed similar to Archipova's, as the knowledgeable reviewer below points out. Even the small roles of Iskra, Orlik and Drunken Cossack are luxuriously cast: Richard Margison, Monte Pederson, and Heinz Zednik display complete understanding of Russian text and score.This opera is the epitome of tragedy, even though it begins cheerfully. As soon as Mazeppa asks for the hand of his own goddaughter, the sequence of events progresses as a thunderbolt, pausing briefly only for the Hetman's passionate tuneful aria "O Maria". Not only did Mazeppa want Kotchubey's daughter, he also wanted his wealth, necessary for keeping up his large army. He resorts to torture and when the proud old man does not budge - to execution, keeping these deeds in secret from his beloved Maria. As the grizzly secret comes out, she blames herself for everything and her fragile mind is snapped after she becomes a witness to her father's execution. The opera's finale combines death scene and mad scene. As Andrei dies, (killed, alas, by fleeing Mazeppa), Maria tries to comfort him imagining he is her child. The atmospheric sounds of violins and winds make the lullaby motif eerie and unsettling. The works of Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin were Tchaikovsky's lifelong inspiration. The operas "Eugeny Onegin" and "Pique Dame" are well known and appreciated. Somehow, "Mazeppa" fell into obscurity and had not been performed nearly as often, even though its source, the poem "Poltava", remains one of the most popular epic poems in Russian literature. Thus Maestro Jarvi makes a very strong case for it by involving Russia's major talents for this release. The Gothenburg orchestra is able to rise up a storm; the battle scene in Act III is stirring, much like the familiar 1812 overture. As usual, one can expect somewhat more intensity from Gergiev, but his cast, while very good, does not match Jarvi's "pound for pound." (Curiously, though, Gergiev also casts Diadkova as Lyubov.) Add crystal clear spacious digital sound and English, German and French translations, and this set becomes a definite First Choice."
tenor_in_training | 03/11/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I can only recommend the two previous reviews as excellent analyses of this recording. I have two small reservations however, and both relate to Galina Gorchakova.I wish to point out that I admire this soprano. She does not at all display the unsteadiness and wobble which is present in so many "great" Russian sopranos. She does, as one previous reviewer points out, have a large voice, which she manages quite well. However, her rich tone brings her character closer to the mezzo of her character's mother , Lyubov (Dyadkova). The two voices, though beautiful, are too similar. Dyadkova is quite within her role, however....Gorchakova maybe does not sound as juvenile as one would imagine Maria to be. Nevertheless, her interpretation is excellent.The other quibble has more significance, but still does not detract from my 5-star rating (mainly because Russian operas are such rarities that a fine recording such as this deserves every encouragement): the famous final mad-scene lullaby. This is not in truth solely Gorchakova's fault but also Jaarvi's in that this stunning aria deserves a more sombre and meaningful interpretation. Subsequent interpretations (concert recordings) have left me with the unshakelable feeling that the aria was just a little too rushed.....but still, acceptably done. Here, I lament the wasted potential given such a great conductor and Gorchakova's lovely voice.All in all, however, a definite winner! I cannot resist the temptation to make particular mention of Kotscherga's brilliant portrayal of Kotchubey. His excecution-scene aria is a moving tear-jerker. Well worth getting; if only it were more readily accessible........"