Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Rachmaninov, Dargom•zhsky, Glinka & Borodin

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COMPOSERS: Dargomizhsky,Glinka & Borodin,Rachmaninov,Rimsky-Korsakov,Tchaikovsky
LABELS: Chandos
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Russian Arias
WORKS: Arias by Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Rachmaninov, Dargomïzhsky, Glinka & Borodin
PERFORMER: Sergei Larin (tenor); Ambrosian Opera Chorus, Philharmonia Orchestra/Gennadi Rozhdestvensky
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 9603
If Sergei Larin has always seemed something of an also-ran when compared to the starrier Russian singers of his generation, then this magnificent disc is the one to project him into the first rank. The beauty of his lyrical tenor has never been in question: it’s a glorious, golden-toned flexible voice, and his phrasing has always been exemplary, but as a performer he has sometimes lacked character. Part of this transformation may be due to Rozhdestvensky, who inspires the Philharmonia to exhilarating playing: hear those rip-roaring Cossack bells and tambourines in the Act I extract from May Night, or the lushly Romantic strings in the same opera’s water nymph scene.

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The great Russian operas of the 19th century rarely favoured tenors: the principal roles tended to be written for basses or baritones. Even so this is a glorious programme of extracts both familiar – Lensky’s two arias from Onegin, as well as Monsieur Triquet’s enchanting French parody; three of Herman’s ariosi from The Queen of Spades; the Song of the Indian Merchant from Sadko – and less so. Claire Wrathall