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Boris Godunov, Rostropovich


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Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 21 2000)
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Label: Erato
  • ASIN: B000005E6S
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #227,080 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Disc: 1
1. Boris Godounov: Introduction orchestrale: Scene - Eh bien, qu'avez-vous?
2. Boris Godounov: A quis nous abandonnes-tu ?
3. Boris Godounov: Fideles croyants, notre boiar reste inexorable
4. Boris Godounov: Tu as entendu les hommes?
5. Boris Godounov: Scene du Couronnement, Coronation Scene
6. Boris Godounov: Mon ame est en peine
See all 17 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. Boris Godounov: Ou est mon fiance?
2. Boris Godounov: Oh, c'est assez, Princesse - Chanson du Moustique, Mosquito Song
3. Boris Godounov: Ah, Nounou, en voila un conte, Jeu de la Main chaude, The Hand-Clapping Game
4. Boris Godounov: Qu'y a-t-il?
5. Boris Godounov: Comme c'est bien, mon fils!
6. Boris Godounov: Aie, chut! - Qu'y a-t-il donc?
See all 17 tracks on this disc
Disc: 3
1. Boris Godounov: Elle! Marina!
2. Boris Godounov: Eh bien, la messe est-elle finie?
3. Boris Godounov: Trrr, trrr, trrr
4. Boris Godounov: Aaah! Boris! Ils ont offense L'Innocent!
5. Boris Godounov: Nobles Boiars!
6. Boris Godounov: Eh bien, passons au vote
See all 17 tracks on this disc

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Format: Audio CD
Let's start with the quibbles, on account of their relative insignificance: 1) I miss the real bells used on the Gjórgiev and the Abbado recordings (the samples I got to hear alerted me to this - the chimes used here sound poor by comparison); 2) the Russian original-language libretto is incomplete! [I recommend downloading the libretto from other websites - and then piecing in the few things that are otherwise absent from the regular-performance libretto from the booklet supplied - Rostropóvich's reading gives this opera (a composite of the 1868 and 1872 versions) as completely as possible (the reprise of the Simpleton's scene in the last tableau, originally salvaged from the St. Basil's tableau cut in the 1872 version and which however was reinstated in this recording, could have been omitted consequently).] 3) I wish the orchestra (very good indeed!!!) could be heard more even when the singers are in full voice (this defect relative to Culshaw's Wagner recordings - my standard in taste - also afflicts Rostropóvich's otherwise superb recording of Shostakóvich's "Lady Macbeth of Mcjénsk").
Otherwise, a very powerful reading with everybody in peak form fully deserving a full 5 stars - even the venerable arch-star of Russian soprani from 1952-82 (from her début with the Bolshóy to her retirement from live operatic performances - of course she was forced out of the Bolshóy in 1974 into exile...) Vishñévskaja, who was close to being 61 years of age at the time of this recording, comes off as well as everybody else (you could hardly tell her age)!
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Format: Audio CD
Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov is so rich that it never can be encompassed by one interpretation, however strong. It's worth having two or more versions, including this one, conducted by Rostropovitch, on hand. Here's how it stacks up with two other fine quality, stereo recordings using Mussorgsky's original orchestration: Abbado's and Gergiev's.
Rostropovitch and the ensemble under his baton, provide both a polished orchestral presentation and dynamic drama dominated by one of the best Borises of the digital age. The story and the music reinforce one another seamlessly.
The dramatic presentation in the Rostropovitch version is much more exciting than that in the Abbado version, which focuses more on creating a flawlessly recorded, stunning symphonic and choral atmosphere. In the Rostropovitch version, beautiful children's voices add both an innocent element to Mussorgsky's dark drama and another stunning instrument to the orchestration. In the perfectly polished Abbado version, adult women with full voices flawlessly sing the children's roles.
Rostropovitch's production lacks some of raw dramatic heft of Gergiev versions, but it has more polish. The Gergiev CD set offers two complete versions, both Mussorgsky's 1868 version and the 1873, each complete and with different casts, making it a bargain, if such a thing can be said about overpriced classical music CDs. The Rostropovitch version contains only the 1872 score.
I have all three versions and listen to all of them with great pleasure. If, heaven forbid, I could only have one, this version conducted by Rostropovitch might be it. It would be a tough call to make.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3 reviews
32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
a solid, exciting production, supurb sound July 28 2000
By Jeffrey Harris - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov is so rich that it never can be encompassed by one interpretation, however strong. It's worth having two or more versions, including this one, conducted by Rostropovitch, on hand. Here's how it stacks up with two other fine quality, stereo recordings using Mussorgsky's original orchestration: Abbado's and Gergiev's.
Rostropovitch and the ensemble under his baton, provide both a polished orchestral presentation and dynamic drama dominated by one of the best Borises of the digital age. The story and the music reinforce one another seamlessly.
The dramatic presentation in the Rostropovitch version is much more exciting than that in the Abbado version, which focuses more on creating a flawlessly recorded, stunning symphonic and choral atmosphere. In the Rostropovitch version, beautiful children's voices add both an innocent element to Mussorgsky's dark drama and another stunning instrument to the orchestration. In the perfectly polished Abbado version, adult women with full voices flawlessly sing the children's roles.
Rostropovitch's production lacks some of raw dramatic heft of Gergiev versions, but it has more polish. The Gergiev CD set offers two complete versions, both Mussorgsky's 1868 version and the 1873, each complete and with different casts, making it a bargain, if such a thing can be said about overpriced classical music CDs. The Rostropovitch version contains only the 1872 score.
I have all three versions and listen to all of them with great pleasure. If, heaven forbid, I could only have one, this version conducted by Rostropovitch might be it. It would be a tough call to make.
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Stellar performance of Russia's National opera masterpiece!! July 1 2004
By Alexander Z. Damyanovich - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Let's start with the quibbles, on account of their relative insignificance: 1) I miss the real bells used on the Gjérgiev (especially!!!) and the Abbado recordings (the samples I got to hear alerted me to this - the chimes used here {as in most theatres} sound poor by comparison); 2) the Russian original-language libretto is incomplete (were more space allowed here, I'd have published the missing parts in the original Russian); 3) I wish the orchestra (very good indeed!!!) could be heard more even when the singers are in full voice (this defect relative to Culshaw's Wagner recordings - my standard in taste - also afflicts Rostropóvich's otherwise superb recording of Shostakóvich's "Lady Macbeth of Mcjénsk").

[Regarding point 2: mind you, the French and English translations are quite complete. Otherwise, I recommend downloading the original Russian-language libretto from other websites - and then piecing in the few things that are otherwise absent from the regular-performance libretto from the booklet supplied - Rostropóvich's reading gives this opera (a composite of the 1868 and 1872 versions) as completely as possible (the réprise of the Simpleton's scene in the last tableau, originally salvaged from the St. Vasíljiy's (Basil's) tableau cut in the 1872 version and which however is reinstated in this recording, could have been omitted consequently - though I'm glad it wasn't!).]

Otherwise, a very powerful reading with everybody in peak form fully deserving a full 5 stars - even the venerable arch-star of Russian soprani from 1952-82 (from her début with the Boljshóy to her retirement from live operatic performances - of course she was forced out of the Boljshóy in 1974, together with her husband Rostropóvich, into exile...) Vishñévskaja, who was close to being 61 years of age at the time of this recording, comes off as well as everybody else (you could hardly tell her age)! Another success is that of Mira Zakai as one of the nurses (in Act II) - she's much better here than in Solti's recording of Mahler's 2nd Symphony with the CSO (where she sounds so uninvolved as well as plain when compared to Helen Watts or Maureen Forester). Gedda sings the Simpleton's part as movingly as could be anticipated from somebody who has given so much of his career to the Russian repertoire, while Plishka gives a wonderfully warm Pimjén. As to Ruggero Raimondi - wow, what a wonderfully evocative portrayal of the demented Carj (C pronounced as 'ts' like in "bolts"; 'j' just softens the 'r' somewhat...)!!! One doesn't need a bassus profundus (which he's not - though his low notes lack nothing!) to do justice to this rôle after all... No less noteworthy: a stunningly beautiful piece of work on the part of treble Matthew Fish in the rôle of Fjeódor, which - together with the children's choir used in some of the chorus parts - also adds some lovely touches of authenticity without sacrificing anything in the way of artistic quality!! To boot, Rostropóvich gives a wonderfully taut yet extremely flexible and musical reading to the score and his orchestra responds with some wonderful playing!

Finally, regarding the version of the score being used: while it's indeed based on the 1872 "definitive" version, much stuff cut therefrom which was in the 1868 original version makes it into the recording (not a note is cut from the score). While obviously the earlier version of Act II as well as a few other snippets in Act I (when Grigóriy wakes up) are superseded (the latter's snippets are merely the same music given to offstage choir instead of the strings as done initially), other things (e.g., the dismissal of the crowd in the Prologue's 1st scene, the scene in front of St. Vasíljiy's Cathedral) are fully reinstated - all of this can be vouched for from the full score 2-book set published by Oxford University Press giving Musórgskiy's original version.

Most definitely and strongly recommended in all events and regards!!! [Hopefully Erato will reissue this recording as it's amply deserving!]
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A great "Boris Godunov" March 18 2014
By jt52 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I didn't even know about this 1987 recording of Modest Mussorgsky's "Boris Godunov" until a few weeks ago but am very glad that's changed, as it is one of the best opera recordings I've heard in the last few years. The performance is consistently very good across all parameters, with a general interpretation that emphasizes detailed phrasing and balancing of voices and instruments, rather than sheer emotional power, such as the approach taken by Nikolai Golovanov in his classic version.

This interpretive approach all begins with the conducting of Mstlav Rostropovich, leading Washington DC's National Orchestra. Rostropovich does a simply admirable job of balancing the instrumental combinations to fully bring Mussorgsky's marvelous orchestration. Without over-polishing Mussorgsky's style into a more mainstream 19th-century product, the orchestra is both transparent - so that the opera's rich and significant tapestry of leitmotivs are readily apparent - and original - the bare but refined textures come through and fully exhibit the originality, even iconoclasm, of the instrumentation. Also commendable is the balance Rostropovich achieves during the choral scenes. Recordings of choral music are likely the most problematic area of sound engineering. The Erato engineers deserve credit for a remarkable studio job throughout, but nowhere is the achievement more marked than in the large choral scenes in the Prologue and Kromy Forest scenes that bookend Boris, where the chorus comes through with little distortion.

Ruggero Raimondi's Boris is outstanding. Raimondi was in his years during the 1980s and he apparently lavished effort on this role. His singing is detailed and his voice rich and beautiful. One of the remarkable things about this recording is the display by Galina Vishnevskaya, the wife of Rostropovich, who appears in two roles, most importantly the devious Polish princess Marina. That Vishnevskaya was 61 at the time of this recording defies belief, because her voice is in very good form, beautiful sounding, technically in command and sounding like it comes from someone two decades her junior. The supporting cast includes some primo talent, including tenor Niccolai Gedda and soprano Catherine Dubosc, as well as Paul Plishka, who I think is just excellent in the role of the hermit Pimen.

This is a superb "Boris Godunov" that is a must hear for all lovers of Russian music.


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