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Songs And Dances Of Death/Sunl [Original recording remastered]

Modeste Mussorgsky Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 28.03
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Product Details


1. Where Are You, Little Star?
2. Darling Savishna
3. I. With Nanny
4. II. In The Corner
5. III. The Beetle
6. IV. With The Doll
7. V. At Bedtime
8. VI. The Hobby-Horse
9. VII. The Cat 'Sailor'
10. Lullaby
11. I. Within Four Walls
12. II. You Did Not See Me In The Crowd
13. III. An End To The Futile, Hectic Day
14. IV. Ennui
15. V. Elegy
16. VI. On The River
17. King Saul
18. Hopak
19. The Wild Winds Blow
20. I. Trepak
See all 24 tracks on this disc

Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Something very special April 21 2004
Format:Audio CD
The previous reviewer was pretty much spot on. Christoff is genuinely magnificent in these recordings, power and beauty coexist in his voice, and the deep emotion he expresses is made more powerful by being tempered by control. The accompaniment serves to showcase this voice and is more than adequate to this task. It is perhaps not always "Herbert Von Karajan" smooth, but this is probably no disadvantage, you could argue that this is in keeping with this selection of Mussorgsky's wonderful"rough hewn" folk flavoured music. As the previous reviewer indicated, this will appeal to fans of the unusual as it is in itself something remarkably different to almost anything I've heard before. I can say however that out of the 1000 + recordings I own, it is very probably the one I am most glad I purchased, and certainly one of my very favourites. Unfortunately I am probably preaching to the choir, as if you are reading this review you probably already enjoy Mussorgsky, or are at least familiar or interested in his work. You may also be a fan of Schubert's song cycles and Lieder.If that is the case then you should certainly enjoy this C.D. The sad point is that this recording should also appeal to people who as yet still believe that they have no interest in "Classical" music, and may never come across this recording. I would certainly recommend this to Tom Waits fans for a start, especially those who enjoyed his recent album "Alice",and also afficionados of Folk music, World music or the art of songwriting.
I know it's a cliche, but I'd have to give this 6 stars out of 5
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5.0 out of 5 stars Music to make you forget who you are for a minute Aug. 12 2003
Format:Audio CD
I was told about Christoff's 1950s recordings by a musician friend. I had heard a little bit about him, and was already
familiar with some of the Mussorgsky songs in another recording,
so figured I couldn't miss. To say that I was flabbergasted would be putting it lightly. The man was not only a superb singer - what control! what versatility! - he was a consummate actor. After all, they say he was the best Boris Godunov since Chaliapin - I believe it. But, to particulars: On the first half of this disc he is accompanied by a terrific pianist (whose name temporarily escapes me)and on the other half by the Orchestre de la Radiodiffusion Francaise, who are a tad ragged (as they often were) and undermiked at times but fine powerful accompaniment. If all you know of Mussorgsky is the Pictures - and you have a taste for the unusual - you owe it to yourself to pick this up. Your life will never be quite the same again, I guarantee it!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Music to make you forget who you are for a minute Aug. 12 2003
By Nicholas Edwards - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I was told about Christoff's 1950s recordings by a musician friend. I had heard a little bit about him, and was already
familiar with some of the Mussorgsky songs in another recording,
so figured I couldn't miss. To say that I was flabbergasted would be putting it lightly. The man was not only a superb singer - what control! what versatility! - he was a consummate actor. After all, they say he was the best Boris Godunov since Chaliapin - I believe it. But, to particulars: On the first half of this disc he is accompanied by a terrific pianist (whose name temporarily escapes me)and on the other half by the Orchestre de la Radiodiffusion Francaise, who are a tad ragged (as they often were) and undermiked at times but fine powerful accompaniment. If all you know of Mussorgsky is the Pictures - and you have a taste for the unusual - you owe it to yourself to pick this up. Your life will never be quite the same again, I guarantee it!
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Something very special April 21 2004
By wilmoth houdini - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
The previous reviewer was pretty much spot on. Christoff is genuinely magnificent in these recordings, power and beauty coexist in his voice, and the deep emotion he expresses is made more powerful by being tempered by control. The accompaniment serves to showcase this voice and is more than adequate to this task. It is perhaps not always "Herbert Von Karajan" smooth, but this is probably no disadvantage, you could argue that this is in keeping with this selection of Mussorgsky's wonderful"rough hewn" folk flavoured music. As the previous reviewer indicated, this will appeal to fans of the unusual as it is in itself something remarkably different to almost anything I've heard before. I can say however that out of the 1000 + recordings I own, it is very probably the one I am most glad I purchased, and certainly one of my very favourites. Unfortunately I am probably preaching to the choir, as if you are reading this review you probably already enjoy Mussorgsky, or are at least familiar or interested in his work. You may also be a fan of Schubert's song cycles and Lieder.If that is the case then you should certainly enjoy this C.D. The sad point is that this recording should also appeal to people who as yet still believe that they have no interest in "Classical" music, and may never come across this recording. I would certainly recommend this to Tom Waits fans for a start, especially those who enjoyed his recent album "Alice",and also afficionados of Folk music, World music or the art of songwriting.
I know it's a cliche, but I'd have to give this 6 stars out of 5
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite stunning Aug. 2 2011
By G.D. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Boris Christoff's voice must surely be one of the most immediately recognizable in the history of song, and no one, I think, has been better suited to Mussorgsky's darkly colored songs (with one possible exception). In fact, Christoff recorded (virtually) all of them. I have not heard the complete set, but if this "best of" selection, carefully remastered, of the most famous songs is anything to go by I am sorely tempted.

The most controversial interpretation here must surely be the rendition of the cycle The Nursery. It is not that Christoff fails to be wonderfully sensitive, variegated and, well, alluring, but his was definitely a big voice, suited for portraying kings, emperors and devils, and there is a certain trace of the bizarre in his attempt to portray a little boy and his nanny. Still, this interpretation must be heard for its thoughtfulness, imagination and wonderful voice. I cannot imagine any complaints about Christoff's versions of the other two major cycles, the bleakly horrifying Sunless (truly horrifying in this version, at least) and the magnificently morbid, stirring Songs and Dances of Death. And of course Christoff, one of the ultimate interpreters of Mephistopheles, is incomparable in the famous, darkly humorous Song of the flea. Oh yes, it is exaggerated, but nevertheless completely perfect.

Throughout Christoff is sensitively accompanied. Alex André Labinsky provides idiomatic piano playing and the Orchestre National de la Radiodiffusion Francaise under Georges Tzipine is never less than satisfying even if they also lack the last touch of color and textural variety - though there is plenty of wikckedness and menace. Texts and translations are included and the sound is decent, even though the recordings (made in 1955 and 1957) are hardly up to today's standards. Still, this is an unmissable disc (unless you already have the three disc set, I guess); urgently recommended.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Boris Christof sings Mussorgsky Nov. 22 2008
By Jean-paul H. Bierny - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I remember this recording from my early adulthood. I am so glad this is available again. Fantastic music, sung by the best bass ever!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mussorgksy & Christoff - one of the best combinations Jan. 21 2012
By Banjey - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
This recording is wonderful, and it's enough said about it here. I'd like to point your attention to another amazing performance of these vocal cycles by another great bass from USSR Eugene Nesterenko accompanied by Vladimir Krainev on piano (really good one) recorded in the 1970s and issued by the Russian label Melodya on CD for the first time in 2008. While I guess it could be difficult to get this recording living outside of Russia (although amazon.co.uk has it), I highly recommend you to find it. I cannot tell which one I prefer the best. Maybe Nesterenko in the end. Yes. His singing is more direct and natural and as much powerful as Christoff's. I have a feeling that Christoff decorates his singing a bit to make it more emotional, it looks like he uses some tricks for that. You cannot find that in Nesterenko. Yes, he is acting too, but it looks so natural and honest. Check his "Song of the flea" and "Savishna" on youtube and you'll probably understand why I prefer his play.
But it is worth to get this CD anyway at least for the Nursery cycle which Nesterenko did not record. So it seems to be the best performance of this particular cycle ever recorded.
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