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ICON: The Mighty Boris Box set, Import

5.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Box set, Import, February 12, 2013
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Editorial Reviews

Boris Christoff was born in Plovdiv on May 18, 1914. Educated as a lawyer, he was heard by the King of Bulgaria while singing with the famous Gusla Choir and at the behest of the King in 1942 he was granted a scholarship to study singing. Although not a particularly large man, Christoff's magnetic stage presence and piercing eyes made him always the center of attention on stage, and he exerted command and authority not only over his fellow performers but on the audience as well. His rich, sonorous voice was compact and perfectly focused and, like his physical presence, made its effect in every part of the theatre. Christoff s perfectly controlled Slavic voice was ideally suited to the Russian repertoire, especially the roles particularly associated with Chaliapin. This 11-CD set features Christoff s operatic repertoire with arias by Gounod, Gluck, and Verdi.

Product Details

  • Performer: Boris Christoff
  • Conductor: Herbert von Karajan, Igor Marketvich, Vittorio Gui
  • Composer: Modest Mussorgsky, Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Giuseppi Verdi
  • Audio CD (February 12, 2013)
  • Number of Discs: 11
  • Format: Box set, Import
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: Warner Classics
  • ASIN: B00ACHXKC6
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #226,776 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Overall, a nice collection by a fabulous singer, but no lyrics, etc., just recording details for each track in the slim booklet that's included. There are 8 CDs of Russian songs, almost all written or arranged by classical composers (though some traditional songs are included), plus 3 CDs of opera aria excerpts. This 11 CD box could be a very good value, depending on how much of the material one already has in other EMI incarnations; as for myself, it turns out that I already own much of what's in this new Icon box, details below.

Most (or perhaps all) of the music in this box has been previously released by EMI: a) CDs 1-3 as "Mussorgsky/Complete Songs (including complete lyrics in the booklet)" in 1989 in the References historical series, b) CDs 4-8 as "Melodies Russes (Russian Songs) by Balakirev, Borodin, Cui, Glinka, Rachmaninoff, Rimsky-K., Tchaikovsky, and traditional" in 1992 by EMI-France, and c) CD 9 as "Boris Christoff: Russian Opera Arias and Songs by Borodin, Mussorgsky, Rimsky-K., and Tchaikovsky" in 1992 in the References historical series; all of these disks appear to be exactly the same masterings as those in this new Icon series box.

Though they may have been released before, two of the CDs are new to me (10 and 11); they contain arias from operas by Bellini, Boito, Borodin, Glinka, Gluck, Gounod, Mozart, Mussorgsky, and Verdi, all recorded between 1949 and 1966 (though mostly from the 1950s).

As an aside, for those of you who like historical recordings of great Russian opera arias and such, it would be worthwhile to track down a copy of Feodor Chaliapin's "Russian Opera Arias" in EMI's (first) "Great Recordings of the Century" series. There you'll find some stunningly sung arias from Mussorgsky's "Boris Godunov", Glinka's "A Life for the Tsar" and "Ruslan & Ludmilla", Dargomijski's "Rusalka", Rubenstein's "The Demon", Borodin's "Prince Igor", Rimsky-Korsakov's "Sadko", and Rachmaninoff's "Aleko".
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This very complete compilation of the recorded output of the great Bulgarian bass Boris Christoff was the work of Tony Locantro of EMI. He also contributes excellent notes on Christoff's career. Christoff was surely the greatest bass of the post-war era, and his voice is captured magnificently on virtually all of the 11 CDs of this set, even though the recordings are mostly mono, dating from the 50s. If you have a chance to sample before buying, go to disc 1 for some Mussorgsky songs. The performances are definitive. Or find his magisterial rendition on disc 3 of the same composer's Song of the Flea. If still not convinced go to disc 9 for his unsurpassed performances of three roles from the Mussorgsky opera Boris Godunov. Discs 10 and 11 show him in other than Russian operatic roles where, again, he is mostly very impressive. Don't miss his two duets with Tito Gobbi from Don Carlo and Simon Boccanegra.

It is regrettable that, with these jumbo editions of foreign language music, one can't expect to be supplied with printed translations. But if any singer can get actoss the meaning of a song or aria by vocal means alone it is Christoff.

Was he as impressive on the stage as he sounds here? Yes, he was. I saw his Boris Godunov and will never forget it.
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He wasn't huge like Martti Talvela but what a wonderful voice. I'm hoping that voices like his will become known shortly. Jonas Kaufman is a possibility. He, like Christoff, has a huge voice that one looks for in an opera singer.
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A Great voice with an excellent repertoire. Almost all of the notable Russian classical songs-Mussorgsky"s song cycles being the highlight.
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