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Great Singers Live - Nicolai G

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Amazon.com: 2 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Great Voice, great singer, great sound Nov. 21 2011
By Shaun Greenleaf - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Nicolai Ghiaurov had one of the most successful careers of the post war period, made many complete recordings and a left a number of recitals, but perhaps because he sang so long and the voice inevitably aged, he may not be as appreciated as he deserves. This recital, taken from Bavarian Radio broadcasts of 1966 and 1969, capture him at his absolute peak. The instrument is huge, completely individual, and very beautiful. We tend to think of his fellow Bulgarian Boris Christoff as a more profound interpreter (although Christoff's voice was not comparably large), but here Ghiauorv offers thrilling characterizations, exciting phrasing, in short, everything. The German audience is absolutely silent until the last track, a beautifully performed novelty by "Chrennikow", after which they erupt. The thrill of live performance is present in every track, it crackles with excitement (but not with the slightest distortion of sound). This is a really fine disc in great sound at a bargain price. Grab it. If only Decca would release the fabulous "Mefistofele" highlights album Ghiaurov made under Varviso, recorded a little before these concerts, with Frano Tagliavini as Faust. That continues to be one of the elusive treasures that have never been issued on CD. Meanwhile, this disc will keep this great singer's admirers happy for a little longer.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A magisterial bass displaying his versatility and intensity Feb. 16 2014
By Ralph Moore - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
In many ways I like Ghiaurov best of all in the Italian basso cantante Fach as that best shows off his command of line and smooth dynamic transitions, but he was a musically versatile singer, here singing in various moods and styles and in three languages, even if his French is not as idiomatic as his Italian. I well remember him capering about at in "Faust" at Covent Garden, his enormous voice and considerable stage presence making him a formidable devil. That impersonation certainly gives the lie to his being a rather inert artist concerned more with beauty of tone than dramatisation.

This recital is a compilation from radio broadcasts of two live concert performances in Munich in 1966 and 1969.Obvioulsy Ghiaurov in finest vocal estate but he is also extraordinarily animated and alert in his impersonation of very different personalities, from the aforementioned Demon to the drunk and despaired Ralph to the comical Basilio. Perhaps the best things here, however, when it comes to sheer majesty of voice, are the items in Russian: in the "Song of the Viking Guest" from Rimsky-Korsakov's "Sadko"; the steadiness and volume of sound are stunning. The noble melancholy of Susanin's aria anticipating his martyr's death is deeply affecting as is the impact of Ghiaurov's voice as pure sound in that lovely tune. The aria from "Aleko" is equally gripping. As a bonus, we hear Prêtre conducting splendidly the instrumental and choral passages in the Coronation Scene; the Munich Radio Orchestra and Bavarian Radio Chorus are both superb, as is the agony of Ghiaurov's portrayal of the tortured Boris.

This is the disc to play to anyone accusing Ghiaurov of emotional reticence, whereas his Decca recital of Verdi arias from around the same time is a more conventional demonstration of la bella voce. Only one item here - the "Il lacerato spirito" from "Simon Boccanegra" - is duplicated by that album; otherwise they cover different areas of Ghiaurov's range. The other great Verdi aria is a masterclass in vocal shading; Ghiaurov's King Philip rivals his compatriot Christoff's for intensity and colouring. The two concluding items constitute a comic tour de force and Ghiaurov is clearly having a high old time.

The sound is first class and the audience virtually noiseless. I cannot recommend this disc too highly to fans of Ghiaurov and the bass voice in general; in just under an hour you hear just about everything this voice-type can do best. The only drawback is the lack of texts and plot contexts for the arias.

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