WORKS: Boris Godunov
PERFORMER: Martti Talvela, Nicolai Gedda, Leonard Mróz, Aage HauglandPolish Radio National SO & Chorus/Jerzy Semkow
CATALOGUE NO: 7 54377 2 ADD (1977)
The chief glory of this epic recording lies in the magnificent playing of the Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra and choral singing of the Radio Chorus of Kraków. This is an opera about Russia (even if the cast is predominantly Polish) and its people, not merely one of its leaders, and the overwhelming effect is of a great company at work.
Of the soloists, the Finnish bass Martti Talvela’s Boris inevitably stands out: his is a performance of searing intensity in which the character’s strength and brutal ambition are tempered with torment and self-doubt, making him essentially human, not simply tyrannical. Nicolai Gedda as the pretender Dmitri also gives a majestic performance, full of idealism and confidence. So does Bozena Kinasz, as Marina, whose silvery and quintessentially Slav mezzo, beautifully controlled, infuses the role with fervour. Of the supporting cast, the mighty basses of Leonard Mróz (Pimen) and Aage Haugland (Varlaam), and the reedy tenor of Paulos Raptis as the Simpleton, stand out. Claire Wrathall