Author Topic: Recommendations please for Moussorgsky's Boris Godounov  (Read 2918 times)

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Offline aligreto

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Recommendations please for Moussorgsky's Boris Godounov
« on: March 15, 2015, 02:36:27 PM »
I am relatively new to this forum and also relatively new to the world of opera. It is only in the last few years that I have begun to explore this vast world. One of my approaches has been to buy “Highlights” versions of a particular work to see if I like the “flavour” of it. In this case I have been very successful; I bought this inexpensive LP recently…




…and really liked what I heard in terms of the music and specifically this particular performance. So much so that I am now seeking recommendations for a full set to add to my collection. Your recommendation can be an old vinyl version or a modern CD/SACD version; I am more interested in the performance than the medium through which it is delivered. Having said that I would rather not buy a Blu Ray/DVD version.

So, what is your recommendation for this work please?
Forgive me if this topic has already been covered. I have done a search but was not successful. If the topic already exists then I would be obliged if you could please redirect me there.

Edit: I forgot to mention that my small amount of research so far would appear to tell me that Gergiev is the front runner here.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2015, 02:46:34 PM by aligreto »
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Offline mc ukrneal

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Re: Recommendations please for Moussorgsky's Boris Godounov
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2015, 05:11:42 PM »
I like Abbado more, but the advantage of the Gergiev is getting both versions of the opera (and both are well done). So I'd go for the Philips (original)release if you have a choice as the re-release seems to have only one version. I don't really like the Cluytens you already have, though listening to Christoff (someone who knew the role so well) is the exception. 
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Offline aligreto

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Re: Recommendations please for Moussorgsky's Boris Godounov
« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2015, 09:26:43 AM »
I like Abbado more, but the advantage of the Gergiev is getting both versions of the opera (and both are well done). So I'd go for the Philips (original)release if you have a choice as the re-release seems to have only one version. I don't really like the Cluytens you already have, though listening to Christoff (someone who knew the role so well) is the exception.

Thank you for that. The Cluytens above is only a "Highlights" version and all that I have to go on at the moment. Interestingly someone else mentioned the Abbado version to me today. I also need to check what is available to me regarding what you say about the two versions by Gergiev.
I appreciate your input.
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Re: Recommendations please for Moussorgsky's Boris Godounov
« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2015, 10:27:45 AM »
Recommending recording of Boris Godunov is bit daunting because there are basically three different versions with further variants  with various mixings and cuttings.

For someones first recording I think Abbado perhaps offers best combination of quality of singing/playing and the most encompassing version of the score.

Offline knight66

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Re: Recommendations please for Moussorgsky's Boris Godounov
« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2015, 11:38:15 AM »
I like the Cluytens, but there are two issues. One is that it is the Rimsky edition of the opera. Although I enjoy it, Moussorgsky's original orchestration is darker and preferred now. The second issue is that it is a bit bread and bread. I think Christoff is the best Boris I have heard, but the egomaniac persuaded the producers to let him sing all three of the main bass roles, which means he dialogues with himself. I do prefer more variety netween the voices than Christoff produces.

I have the Gergiev and although you get two 'original' versions, one much longer than the other, the music making does not grab me.

I go back to the Karajan for an all round experience in excellent sound, the last of the really good Rimsky versions. I don't know the Abbado, but know it is usually well thought of.

A long time ago Todd wrote a terrific series of detailed reviews of the main versions. You might find them in the search facility. I have not linked to them, as it gives other folk a chance to weigh in with subsequent thoughts.

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Offline Todd

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Re: Recommendations please for Moussorgsky's Boris Godounov
« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2015, 11:44:35 AM »
1869 Version - Gergiev
1872-1874 Version - Abbado (Sony)
Rimsky version - Dobrowen if you can handle mono, Karajan if you can't
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Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Recommendations please for Moussorgsky's Boris Godounov
« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2015, 11:45:22 AM »
. . . The second issue is that it is a bit bread and bread. I think Christoff is the best Boris I have heard, but the egomaniac persuaded the producers to let him sing all three of the main bass roles, which means he dialogues with himself. I do prefer more variety netween the voices than Christoff produces.

The late, great Mel Blanc could have pulled that off . . . .
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Offline aligreto

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Re: Recommendations please for Moussorgsky's Boris Godounov
« Reply #7 on: March 16, 2015, 12:18:59 PM »
Recommending recording of Boris Godunov is bit daunting because there are basically three different versions with further variants  with various mixings and cuttings.

For someones first recording I think Abbado perhaps offers best combination of quality of singing/playing and the most encompassing version of the score.

OK, so there is more to this than I thought.
I therefore take your point that Abbado certainly does appear to be the front runner especially for someone new to the work as I am.
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Offline aligreto

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Re: Recommendations please for Moussorgsky's Boris Godounov
« Reply #8 on: March 16, 2015, 12:29:59 PM »
I like the Cluytens, but there are two issues. One is that it is the Rimsky edition of the opera. Although I enjoy it, Moussorgsky's original orchestration is darker and preferred now. The second issue is that it is a bit bread and bread. I think Christoff is the best Boris I have heard, but the egomaniac persuaded the producers to let him sing all three of the main bass roles, which means he dialogues with himself. I do prefer more variety netween the voices than Christoff produces.

I have the Gergiev and although you get two 'original' versions, one much longer than the other, the music making does not grab me.

I go back to the Karajan for an all round experience in excellent sound, the last of the really good Rimsky versions. I don't know the Abbado, but know it is usually well thought of.

A long time ago Todd wrote a terrific series of detailed reviews of the main versions. You might find them in the search facility. I have not linked to them, as it gives other folk a chance to weigh in with subsequent thoughts.

Mike

Thank you very much Mike for the further clarification.
Without obviously hearing any other version than the Cluytens' Highlights I must say that I would be much more inclined to gravitate towards Moussorgsky's original orchestration since you bring up the topic. I would at least like to hear where the man started from. So that will be important for me.
A first mention of von Karajan who has not disappointed me thus far.
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Offline aligreto

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Re: Recommendations please for Moussorgsky's Boris Godounov
« Reply #9 on: March 16, 2015, 12:33:45 PM »
1869 Version - Gergiev
1872-1874 Version - Abbado (Sony)
Rimsky version - Dobrowen if you can handle mono, Karajan if you can't

Thank you for that Todd. I am going to try to unearth your reviews of the main versions mentioned above.


Edit: found it, extracted it and will digest it later.
« Last Edit: March 16, 2015, 01:08:34 PM by aligreto »
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Offline Spineur

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Re: Recommendations please for Moussorgsky's Boris Godounov
« Reply #10 on: June 05, 2016, 11:52:45 AM »
I spent this week-end watching and listening to this excellent production of Boris Godounov by the Torino opera theater and the RAI (2011).  It uses the 1869 (original) version, to which the Kromy scene of the 1872 version which ends the opera has been added just before the last Boris death scene.  So in this version there are 8 scenes instead of the 7 of the 1869 version.  The Kromy scene emphasise the opposition between the Russian peasants and the Tsar and adds meaning to the libretto.  The staging by Andrei Konchalovsky is very intelligent with a minimal scenic effects (a slopping floor is about it) concentrating more on the meaning of each scene.  The title role is sung by Orlin Anastassov.  Not quite Boris Christoff but still excellent.
The main value of this production is the 1869 version, with the original Mussorgsky music.  Compared to Rimsky and 1879 version, the polish scene are omitted making the opera more focussed and clearer to understand.  The coronation scene is very short (inspired by orthodox lithurgic music) while in Rimsky version, I always felt it was going on forever.

For some reason, this DVD/Blu Ray in not available on Amazon. com or uk.
For me its the best modern production I have seen so far.  Of course, the death scene with Boris Christoff
<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/X3scGj809zk" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/X3scGj809zk</a>
remains a must see.  I dont know if the Chaliapin recording are still available somewhere.
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Offline aligreto

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Re: Recommendations please for Moussorgsky's Boris Godounov
« Reply #11 on: June 05, 2016, 12:18:44 PM »
I spent this week-end watching and listening to this excellent production of Boris Godounov by the Torino opera theater and the RAI (2011).  It uses the 1869 (original) version, to which the Kromy scene of the 1872 version which ends the opera has been added just before the last Boris death scene.  So in this version there are 8 scenes instead of the 7 of the 1869 version.  The Kromy scene emphasise the opposition between the Russian peasants and the Tsar and adds meaning to the libretto.  The staging by Andrei Konchalovsky is very intelligent with a minimal scenic effects (a slopping floor is about it) concentrating more on the meaning of each scene.  The title role is sung by Orlin Anastassov.  Not quite Boris Christoff but still excellent.
The main value of this production is the 1869 version, with the original Mussorgsky music.  Compared to Rimsky and 1879 version, the polish scene are omitted making the opera more focussed and clearer to understand.  The coronation scene is very short (inspired by orthodox lithurgic music) while in Rimsky version, I always felt it was going on forever.

For some reason, this DVD/Blu Ray in not available on Amazon. com or uk.
For me its the best modern production I have seen so far.  Of course, the death scene with Boris Christoff
<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/X3scGj809zk" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/X3scGj809zk</a>
remains a must see.  I dont know if the Chaliapin recording are still available somewhere.

Thank you very much for that Spineur. That clip was magnificent!
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Offline aligreto

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Re: Recommendations please for Moussorgsky's Boris Godounov
« Reply #12 on: June 05, 2016, 12:42:41 PM »
By way of update I eventually bought the Abbado and Gergiev [both 1869 & 1872 versions] productions.
Von Karajan is still in the ponder pouch.

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