AQVR 401-2
IN STOCK NOW

Gérald . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sergei Lemeshev

Lakmé . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Nadezhda Kazantseva

Nilakantha . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Alexei Korolev

Mallika . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Anna Malyuta

Frédéric . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Hugo Titz

Ellen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Varvara Gradova

Rose . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Kira Shelyakhovskaya

Mistress Bentson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Polina Levchenko

Hadji . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sergei Fomichev

The choir and orchestra of All-Union Radio

Conductor - Alexander Orlov

Recorded in 1946-1947

CD1

Act I

  1. Prelude

  2. Introduction, Choeur et Prière: «À l’heure accoutumée» (Nilakantha, Lakmé)

  3. Scène: «Lakmé, c'est toi qui nous protège!» (Nilakantha, Lakmé, Hadji, Mallika)

  4. Duetto: «Viens, Mallika, les lianes en fleurs» (Lakmé, Mallika)

  5. Quintette et couplets: «Quand une femme est si jolie» (Ellen, Rose, Mrs. Bentson, Gérald, Frédéric)

  6. Air: «Prendre le dessin d'un bijou» (Gérald)

  7. Scène: «Non! Je ne veux pas toucher» (Gérald, Lakmé, Mallika)

  8. Récitatif et Strophes: «Les fleurs me paraissent plus belles» (Lakmé)

  9. Récitatif: «Ah! Mallika! Mallika» (Lakmé, Mallika, Hadji)

10. Duo: «D'où viens-tu? Que veux-tu?» (Lakmé, Gérald)

11. Scène: «Viens! Là! Là!» (Hadji, Nilakantha, Lakmé, choir)

Act II

12. Entr’acte

13. Choeur: «Allons, avant que midi sonne»

Dancing bayadères:

14. a) Airs de danse: Introduction

15. b) Airs de danse: Terâna

16. c) Airs de danse: Rektah

17. d) Airs de danse: Persian

18. e) Airs de danse: Coda avec Choeurs

19. Récitatif: «Voyez donc ce vieillard» (Mrs. Bentson, Ellen, Rosa, Frédéric, Gérald)

20. Scène: «Ah! Ce vieillard encore!» (Rose, Nilakantha, Lakmé)

21. Stances: «Lakmé! Ton doux regard se voile» (Nilakantha)

CD2

  1. Récitatif: «Ah! C'est de ta douleur»

  2. Scène: «Ah!... Par les dieux inspires» (Lakmé, Nilakantha, choir)

  3. Légende de la fille du Paria: «Où va la jeune Hindou» (Lakmé)

  4. Scène: «La rage me dévore» (Nilakantha, Lakmé, Gérald Frédéric, choir)

  5. Scène & Choeur: «Au milieu des chants d'allegresse» (Nilakantha, Lakmé, choir)

  6. Récitatif: «Le maître ne pense qu'à sa vengeance» (Hadji)

  7. Duo: "Lakmé! Lakmé! C'est toi!» (Lakmé, Gérald)

  8. Finale: «O Dourga, toi qui renais»

Act III

  9. Entr'acte

10. Berceuse: «Sous le ciel tout étoilé» (Lakmé)

11. Récitatif: «Quel vague souvenir alourdit ma pensée?» (Gérald, Lakmé)

12. Cantilène: «Lakmé! Lakmé! Ah! Viens dans la forêt profonde» (Gérald)

13. Scène et Choeur: «Là, je pourrai t'entendre» (Lakmé, Gérald, choir)

14. Scène: «Vivant!» (Frédéric Gérald)

15. Duo: «Ils allaient deux à deux» (Lakmé, Gérald, choir)

16. Finale: «C'est lui! C'est lui!» (Nilakantha, Gérald, Lakmé)

Bonus:

17. Gérald’s aria «Prendre le dessin d'un bijou» (act 1)

18. The bird (N. Titov - A. Pushkin)

19. The Blue Scarf (N. Titov - M. Markov)

20. I knew her pleasant child (A. Titov - D. Minaev)


Sergei Lemeshev (17), Anna Malyuta (18-20)

Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra, conductor - Alexander Orlov (17)

Piano - Berta Kozel (18-20)

Recorded in: (sound-film) from the late 1930s – early 1940s (17), 1951 (18-20)


CRITIC REVIEWS:

“While its Russian language would not make it anyone’s preferred LAKMÉ recording, anyone interested in having a broad picture of great operatic singing of the twentieth century, and/or gaining knowledge of what was hidden behind Russia’s ‘iron curtain’ during the Stalin and post-Stalin years, would find this of interest. Actually, it is more than ‘of interest’, which implies historical importance and perhaps pedagogical enlightenment. This recording will also provide genuine pleasures to anyone who loves the art form, including perhaps the pleasure of discovery.

The recording was made after a 1946 concert performance given by the USSR Radio. The sessions were held in late 1946 and early 1947. At that time operas tended to be performed in the language of the performing company. But those who know other Russian recordings from this era know that the country had a firm connection to international performance standards (many of the great European singers toured regularly to Russia before the Revolution).

The most well-known name in this cast, at least to westerners, would be the tenor Serge Lemeshev (1902-1977). The thought that he and his rival (they were reportedly friendly rivals) Ivan Kozlovsky were the basic house tenors at the Bolshoi for a number of years is mind-boggling. Kozlovsky was more the risk-taker, stretching the music and taking liberties that some find objectionable and others (myself included) find thrilling. Lemeshev was somewhat more conservative in his approach, but absolutely not a dull singer, and many find his voice more pleasant. Kozlovsky’s sharply focused tenor can be an acquired taste; Lemeshev’s voice is richer in basic color. Lemeshev here is a superb Gérard, singing with fluid phrasing, liquid tone, beautiful soft singing, and convincing dramatic involvement.

Nadezhda Kazantseva (1911-2000) may be the most stunning surprise here. She is certainly not as known an artist as Lemeshev (there have been no reviews of her at all in FANFARE). If you think the idea of a Russian coloratura is likely to mean shrill or hard-edged tone, think again. Hers is a bright but never strident lyric soprano with freedom at the top. She avoids the high note at the end of the Bell Song, but creates her own drama by holding and changing the dynamic on the penultimate note. Her lovely and warm voice, ease with the coloratura, and imagination in dynamic shading all add up to a thoroughly satisfying and delightful Lakmé. She may not be as spectacular as Sutherland or Mado Robin, but her performance is worthy of standing alongside others who have successfully recorded the role, such as Natalie Dessay, and in Lemeshev she has perhaps the only Gérard competitive with that of Alain Vanzo on the Sutherland recording. The Lakmé-Gérard duet near the end of the second act is gloriously sung by Kazantseva and Lemeshev.

Another huge asset for this set is the Nilakantha of Alexei Korolev. His dark, strong, evenly produced sound is typical of the best qualities of Russian basses. Mezzo Anna Malyuta’s Malika blends well with Kazantseva in their duet, and she too is dramatically persuasive. The rest of the cast is more than adequate, and Alexander Orlov conducts with force and intensity. A few of the tempi are on the quick side (the duet 'Viens, Mallika' for instance) but because of suppleness of phrasing the music rarely sounds rushed.

The bonuses begin with an earlier recording (the source is unknown but thought to be a film from the late 1930s or early 1940s) of Gérard’s first act aria sung by a more youthful Lemeshev with a gloriously rich timbre. Then we have three songs by Nikolai Titov (1800-1875). Sadly, Aquarius gives us no information other than the titles and the fact that Malyuta recorded them in 1951.

Aquarius’ transfer seems up to their usual high standard. The monaural sound, as seems always the case on Russian originals, is a bit dry and edgy, but not excessively so. Anyone with even a mild tolerance for ‘historical’ recordings will be able to enjoy this. For its illumination of the art of one of the 20th century’s most important tenors - Sergei Lemeshev - this set alone would be of value and importance. Because it also preserves an extremely effective performance of LAKMÉ with a soprano who will be a discovery for many, it is recommended with enthusiasm. Aquarius recordings are available through Norbeck, Peters & Ford.”

- Henry Fogel, FANFARE



Performers: Lemeshev S. Y.