ALBUM TITLE: Wagner
WORKS: Der fliegende Holländer – extracts; Tannhäuser – arias; Die Walküre – arias; Lohengrin – extracts; Götterdämmerung – Siegfried’s Funeral March
PERFORMER: Evgeny Nikitin (bass-baritone), Michaela Schuster (mezzo-soprano); Orchestre Philharmonique Royal de Liège/Christian Arming
CATALOGUE NO: V 5413
Bass-baritone Evgeny Nikitin is, so far as I know, the only Russian singer who can claim to be a major Wagnerian, at any rate among the present batch. Russians seem to have problems singing plausible German, but Nikitin’s passes muster. He has a powerful, large voice, and is capable of undistorted expressive singing. On this not very well planned programme he sings three famous excerpts from the operas, and a duet from Lohengrin, where, partnered by the mezzo Michaela Schuster, he is Telramund, a weak and unwilling villain. That may be the least successful excerpt, with Schuster unsteady and Nikitin sounding cuddly. His opening solo, the Dutchman’s great monologue from Der fliegende Holländer, is authoritative, and so is the smoothly delivered ‘Song to the Evening Star’ from Tannhäuser.
The last item is the most demanding: Wotan’s Farewell from Die Walküre and it shows that Nikitin can be a great exponent of this superb role. Unfortunately the orchestra and their conductor are not adequate for their demanding task, and the interspersed excerpts are painfully coarse, as sometimes also are the accompaniments to the singing.
So all told this is a frustrating disc, showing the soloist in a favourable light, but not, overall, providing much pleasure.