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Subject: Re: Vishnevskaya (was Re: Heather Harper)
From: "Sterling ." <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Sterling .
Date:Mon, 9 Jul 2018 17:01:03 +0000
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That 1963 recording of the Mussorgsky is still available on Decca's "Eloquence" series. 
 
I also want to mention her 1961 recording of "War and Peace" conducted by Melik-Pashayev, which for me remains the greatest performance on record.  Her ease and freshness with Natasha's soaring lines lift one up with her.  The Bolshoi cast is consistently fine:  Yevgeny Kibalko as Prince Andrei;  Vladimir Petrov as Pierre;  Irina Arkhipova as Hélène;  and Pavel Lisitsian as Napoleon.   I see that a few used copies are available on Amazon.  Here's the bar code:  743212935028. 
 
And for a truly harrowing adventure, find a copy of the Shostakovich Sym. 14 with Vishnevskaya in peak form, and Mark Reshetin, conducted by Rudolf Barshai in a live recording from 6 Oct 1969.  [Russian Disc: 748871119222]  Two more performances with these singers were recorded:  12 Feb 1973 with Rostropovich conducting,  and 14 June 1970 conducted by Benjamin Britten.  Barshai remains my favourite:  he tears through the piece in 46 minutes and I have to say that even Rostropovich could not match that white-hot intensity. 
 
Sterling Fuller-Lewis 
 
www.pathway2opera.com  
 
 
-----Original Message----- 
From: Discussion of opera and related issues <[log in to unmask]> On Behalf Of Maxwell Paley 
Sent: Sunday, July 8, 2018 8:34 PM 
To: [log in to unmask] 
Subject: Re: Vishnevskaya (was Re: Heather Harper) 
 
The 1963 recording of Mussorgsky’s “Songs and Dances of Death” Vishnevskaya made for Philips, with Rostropovich at the piano, remains, for me, the greatest recording of that cycle. 
 
I really liked the RCA LP of songs she made with Dedyukhin and for a long time couldn’t find it on CD. It’s in a large “RCA Living Stereo” box set (along with RCA recital discs by Milanov, Nilsson, Peters, Valletti and Forrester) but also available as a high res download from prestoclassics.uk. 
 
That LP opened with a Tchaikovsky song that she used to frequently use as a first number in her recitals that I always found to be a powerful scena. It’s translated as “Was I not like a blade of grass?” 
 
The only time I saw her in opera, she was unfortunately in poor form. This was a 1976 San Francisco “Pique Dame” and apparently she was ill. After one performance, Rostropovich told some of the orchestra backstage “Tonight Vishnevskaya was the pits!” Her studio recording is better. 
 
I found her a riveting interpreter, musically and dramatically. Her voice wasn’t always beautiful but she used it as an effective expressive vehicle. 
 
Max Paley 
 
Sent from my iPad 
 
> On Jul 9, 2018, at 2:49 AM, 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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