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Thread: Boris - Godunov and Christoff

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    Senior Member Ukko's Avatar
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    Default Boris - Godunov and Christoff

    As you folks know, I am not an opera buff. There are a few of them I like though, and I am in the midst of a project converting an LP set - EMI Angel's Boris Godunov production starring Boris Christoff, conducted by Cluytens. It's less than half digitized so far, which means that's all I've heard, but I like the music and am impressed with the singing - and dramatization - by Christoff. The production is a little recent to be in moody's wheelhouse, so I'll ask the rest of you Knowledgeable Ones what you think of it - and its star.
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    Senior Member TxllxT's Avatar
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    I've got the CD version of it. It's almost unbelievable that Boris Christoff did all the basses by himself and provided each of them with a different voice characterisation. But it remains a weird concept. Either Christoff didn't trust any other bass to be able to stand next to him in the same high level of singing quality or he was vain indeed or both... But it is one of the Boris Godunov recordings I return to quite often. The EMI recording quality of the fifties is fabulous.

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    Senior Member Revenant's Avatar
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    ^What he wrote. I have the mp3 download and it's a fine mono version.
    "No preluding! Piano pianissimo -- then all will be well." (Posted in the orchestra pit on August 13, 1876)

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    Senior Member Ukko's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TxllxT View Post
    I've got the CD version of it. It's almost unbelievable that Boris Christoff did all the basses by himself and provided each of them with a different voice characterisation. But it remains a weird concept. Either Christoff didn't trust any other bass to be able to stand next to him in the same high level of singing quality or he was vain indeed or both... But it is one of the Boris Godunov recordings I return to quite often. The EMI recording quality of the fifties is fabulous.
    Hah! There are a few bass parts Christoff didn't do. According to his foreword, early in his career he was persuaded by Issay Dobrowen to perform the parts of Pimen and Varlaam along with the title role. The documentation (pretty damn good for the LP set) includes sketches by one Leonard Boden of his appearance in all three roles. Visually there is no problem distinguishing them. The parts of Schelkalov, Rangoni, Police officer, Lavitsky, and 1st peasant are sung by basses other than Christoff. Rangoni is fairly important, sung by Anton Diakov. I'm going to have to give myself some help to tell which of his three roles he's singing on record.

    It's from the 50s? Somewhere I got the idea it was made in the mid 60s.
    I spent a fortune on deodorant before I realized that people don't like me anyway.

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    Senior Member Ukko's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Revenant View Post
    ^What he wrote. I have the mp3 download and it's a fine mono version.
    The LP set is stereo, with some clear perspective shifts in it.
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    Senior Member Itullian's Avatar
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    Its fabulous and Christoff is amazing as usual.
    I have his Faust and its great too.
    When all else fails, listen to Thick as a Brick.

    "Life's a long song, but the tune ends too soon for us all." Ian Anderson lyric

    "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." Hamlet

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    Senior Member Revenant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ukko View Post
    The LP set is stereo, with some clear perspective shifts in it.
    I thought you meant the first recording he did, circa 1952. That's the one I have. Also great.
    "No preluding! Piano pianissimo -- then all will be well." (Posted in the orchestra pit on August 13, 1876)

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    Senior Member Pip's Avatar
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    He was the greatest Boris - I saw him sing the role at Covent Garden in 1970 and again the next year when CG took it to the Proms, and lastly, in 1974 (his last at CG). A Magnificent artist.He returned to CG and I saw him for the last time in 1979 singing King Phillip in Don Carlo aged 65. The voice still had the same power and depth as one hears on the recordings.
    He first appeared as Boris at CG in 1951. One of my all time greats.

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    Senior Member TxllxT's Avatar
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    I agree with Boris being the greatest Boris, but (just to remind that nobody's perfect) my wife (from St Petersburg) immediately notices, that his Russian language has a Bulgarian intonation.

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    Senior Member Ukko's Avatar
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    BTW, I'm having some difficulty figuring out how I'm going to format this project. I'll probably make one version in DVD-Audio, if only because it's relatively simple. But that only gives me a list of tracks on the player's display to tell me where in the opera the music is at. I think I can come up with better guidance - and at least some video displays - in DVD-Video format, but I have no experience there.

    Oh well, it ain't like I don't have time. This Christoff guy is so melodramatic I feel like I need to know what's going on. That means I'll have to try to follow along with the libretto too. Jeez, what am I getting myself into here?



    Next thing I know, I'll have a libretto in my lap listening to Les Troyens; I'm getting tired just thinking about it.
    I spent a fortune on deodorant before I realized that people don't like me anyway.

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    Senior Member Pip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TxllxT View Post
    I agree with Boris being the greatest Boris, but (just to remind that nobody's perfect) my wife (from St Petersburg) immediately notices, that his Russian language has a Bulgarian intonation.
    I can then offer her the greatest Boris I have ever heard (as against seen) Mark Reizen. Your wife will be satisfied also to his accent. Not an easy Boris to find.

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    I also like a lot Reizen's Boris. This is the CD:



    The same year (1948), and with the same conductor, there is also another fine historical recording with Alexander Pirogov as Boris. This one is complete in youtube:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EL8bxGIL6Hg

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    Senior Member TxllxT's Avatar
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    Of the present day basses the basso profundo Vladimir Miller is very sympathetic to me, although he's (still) not in the same league with Christoff & Reizen.

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    Senior Member Revenant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pip View Post
    I can then offer her the greatest Boris I have ever heard (as against seen) Mark Reizen. Your wife will be satisfied also to his accent. Not an easy Boris to find.
    You can see some of his Boris in YouTube, if they're still up. My mp3 download of a version of Boris with Nikandr Khanayev included numerous bonus tracks, unrelated to the full version, of Reizen as Boris. I got it mostly for those bonus tracks.
    "No preluding! Piano pianissimo -- then all will be well." (Posted in the orchestra pit on August 13, 1876)

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