I used mostly my ears

a blog about music by Marc Haegeman


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Tchaikovsky’s Maid of Orleans

Piotr Tchaikovsky: The Maid of Orleans
Irina Arkhipova (Joan)
Yevgeny Vladimirov (Thibaut)
Vladimir Makhov (King Charles)
Klavdia Radchenko (Agnes Sorel)
Vladimir Valaitis (Dunois)
Sergey Yakovenko (Lionel)
Lev Vernigora (Archbishop)
Andrey Sokolov (Raymond)
Viktor Selivanov (Bertrand)
Vartan Mikaelian (Soldier)
Academic Choir & Symphony Orchestra of All-Union Radio & Television, Scene & Wind Orchestra of the Bolshoi Theatre/Gennady Rozhdestvensky
Melodiya CD 1002053 ADD 3CDs: 53:26, 67:30, 52:51

Tchaikovsky's Maid of Orleans

Arkhipova sings the Maid of Orleans

In remarkable contrast to the preceding Eugene Onegin, Tchaikovsky’s fifth surviving opera The Maid of Orleans (1878-81) emulates French grand opera, mixing grandiose pageantry with melodramatic passages against a pseudo-historic background – the intervention of Joan of Arc in the Anglo-French war in the early 15th century. Unlike its predecessor, The Maid of Orleans never achieved a firm place in the international opera repertory. Riddled with a flawed, patchwork libretto penned by the composer himself (largely based on Schiller’s tragedy, but also the libretto by Jules Barbier and other sources) the opera may be overblown and dramatically uneven, yet it doesn’t deserve its status of virtually complete neglect amongst Tchaikovsky’s output either. There is plenty of splendid music to enjoy, in effect quite a lot more than in several other, more reputed operas – try the famous aria in Act 1, sometimes heard in concert programs, where Joan takes leave of the world she has known since childhood, but also her narration in Act 2, the two love duets with Lionel in Act 3 and 4, and the final scene.
Read the full review on Classical Net


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Borodin Anthology

Alexander Borodin:
Symphony #1 in E Flat Major
Symphony #2 in B minor
Symphony #3 in A minor
Petite Suite (orch. by Glazunov)
In The Steppes of Central Asia
Overture “Prince Igor”

USSR State Symphony Orchestra/Evgeny Svetlanov
Melodiya MELCD1001946 2CDs ADD

Alexander Borodin

Borodin Anthology by Svetlanov

With Melodiya continuing to reissue chunks of its historic catalogue lovers of Russian music are in for a treat. This two-CD set from Evgeny Svetlanov and his USSR State Symphony Orchestra groups the essence of Alexander Borodin’s symphonic work. Although recorded over some twenty years, between 1963 and 1983, Svetlanov’s survey shows remarkable cohesion in approach and result. All titles considered here have been released several times, yet Borodin isn’t particularly overrepresented either on disc or in the concert-hall, making this nicely packaged twofer very welcome. Incidentally, Svetlanov went on to record another Borodin Symphonies cycle for RCA in the 1990s, but this older Melodiya set is by all means preferable.
Read the full review on Classical Net


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Richter’s Rachmaninoff

Sergei Rachmaninoff:
Piano Concerto #1
Piano Concerto #2 *
Prelude, Op. 23 #1
Prelude, Op. 32 #9
Prelude, Op. 32 #10
Prelude, Op. 32 #12

Sviatoslav Richter, piano
USSR Radio and TV State Symphony Orchestra/Kurt Sanderling
* Leningrad Symphonic Orchestra/Kurt Sanderling
Praga Digitals SACD PRD350056 Hybrid Stereo

Sviatoslav Richter

Historic Rachmaninoff

In spite of his gigantic recorded legacy Sviatoslav Richter left us relatively little Rachmaninoff. Of the famous concertos he only recorded the First and Second, and not even that many times. Hearing these Russian live documents from the 1950’s again, reissued by the Czech label Praga Digitals (the first in yet another “Richter Edition”), can but increase our regrets he didn’t return to them more often.
Read the full review on Classical Net


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Svetlanov’s Raymonda

Alexander Glazunov: Raymonda
Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra/Evgeny Svetlanov
Melodiya MELCD1001959 2CDs ADD

Glazunov's Raymonda

Glazunov’s Raymonda

Unlike the Tchaikovsky ballets there is little chance that Raymonda will mean much to outsiders. Alexander Glazunov’s first ballet, created as a 3-act production at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg in 1898 and performed by companies around the world to this day, remains nonetheless one of the finest scores in the genre. In many ways, Raymonda was continuing the trend set by Tchaikovsky, upscaling ballet music to an unsuspected level of sophistication and art, and making an essential contribution to the apotheosis of Russian Imperial Ballet at the close of the 19th century.
Read the full review on Classical Net