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Subject: Re: Vishnevskaya (was Re: Heather Harper)
From: Donald Levine <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Donald Levine <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sun, 8 Jul 2018 20:30:16 -0700
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Galina Vishnevskaya was the most important and in my opinion (only), the
greatest Russian singer of the twentieth century.  The range was immense,
her qualities as an opera singer and as a singer of songs was unrivaled,
and before hardness set in, the voice was so truly beautiful.  Her early
Italian arias including Pace, pace, Casta Diva and L'altra notte as are
good as any.  As Paul mentioned, the Markevitch Requiem is one of the
greatest ever recorded and Vishnevskaya's soprano solo, just as singing,
forget what she puts into it, is up there with the best and by that I mean
Milanov in the 30's and 40's and Price in the 60's.

Anna Netrebko has a beautiful voice and can be an interesting singer.  I
will not trash here here but as an artist, singer and seminal figure in
music in the last 100 years,, she is not in the same class as Galina
Vishnevskaya.  To see Vishnevskaya in concert with Slava at the piano was
to witness die holde kunst.....

Donald

On Sun, Jul 8, 2018 at 4:49 PM G. Paul Padillo <[log in to unmask]>
wrote:

> I'm once again switching the subject title (I don't CARE if anyone minds)
> because these
> threads, as they morph are no longer about the original topic, and for
> anyone who accesses
> Opera-L through the Archives (I can't imagine anyone wanting to get all
> these messages in
> email) and those of us who make use of the Archives to fact check, or just
> stroll down
> Memory Lane, it makes things far easier.  I can't count the number of
> searches I've done
> where I've typed in a singer/composer/opera and had to wade through dozens
> of posts that
> had NOTHING to do with the Subject line.  Now, that THAT's off my chest .
> . .
>
> I've been glad reading posts again on this great Russian lady and that
> others (thank you
> Vesna, and Donald) who find "Galina . . . " to be among the finest
> autobios from any
> musician.
>
> I recall a debate from a year or so ago when someone declared Netrebko
> "the most
> important soprano since Callas or Sutherland."  I countered by stating
> Netrebko wasn't even
> the most important Russian soprano since Callas or Sutherland, citing
> Vishnevskaya as
> having covered a wider repertoire and with more vastly different styles,
> and had done so
> even by the time she was Anna's present age.
>
> I still return to many of Vishnevskaya's recordings and I don't think I've
> ever read ANY book
> as many times as I've read hers.  Her two films - the legendary "Katerina
> Ismailova" and
> the profoundly moving (non-operatic) "Alexandra" by Alexander Sokurov (one
> of my
> favorite Russian filmmakers of any era). are great cinema by any standard.
>
> I recall a while back finally getting my hands on a copy of the 1961 Verdi
> Requiem with
> Markevitch leading the Russian State Academy Choir and the Moscow State
> Philharmonic
> Academy Orchestra and telling anyone within ear shot it was most hair
> raising performance
> I’ve ever encountered of the Verdi.
>
> Markevitch unleashed the Soviet forces in a performance that is staggering
> in its dynamics
> being pushed to the extremes in both directions:  pianissimi are more
> hushed (and
> reverent) then one is often used to hearing and the moments of fiery fury
> are as wildly
> dramatic as one is likely to encounter.  The brass and string playing are
> immaculate to the
> point of my wondering how such sonic violence was achieved without ever
> losing
> musicianship . . . or control!  There are too many genuine stand out
> moments, to count
> here, but a few, such as the threatening sound of the swirling strings and
> winds in the
> "Liber Scriptus" – the text ("all that is hidden will be revealed …
> nothing will be left
> unpunished") turned out in almost horror movie fashion.
>
> The "Dies Irae" is ripped through as if one had been given a one way
> ticket on the express
> train to hell.   It is absolutely hair raising.  The soloists, Nina
> Isakova, Vladimir Ivanovsky
> and Ivan Petrov all do fine work – even if the Latin diction has that
> tell-tale Slavic-edge to
> it.  But . . . but Vishnevskaya offers one of the most uniquely dramatic
> "Libera me’s" one is
> likely to experience and at moments ("tremens factos sum ergo") she can be
> terrifying –
> then switch to truly exquisite piano singing . . . music simply floated
> out in a way that is
> achingly lovely.
>
> I concluded my review of that recording writing:
>
> ". . . Vishnevskaya may surprise with her ability to sweeten the sound in
> those moments it
> is ever filled with emotion and unexpected grace.  Then, of course, there
> are the dramatic
> moments where, predictably, she leaves blood all over the place.  Her
> final "libera me
> Domine de morte . . . " is as though a final gasp from one already dead;
> hers is the sound
> of the soul making its final, heart-rending supplication for mercy . . .
> before the final shovel
> of dirt is thrown onto it."
>
> My opinion has not changed.
>
> p.
>
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