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Rachmaninov - Melodies; Tcherepnine: Melodies - Nicolai Gedda / Alexis Weissenberg (EMI)

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Audio CD, January 12, 1993
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Product Details

  • Performer: Alexandre Tcherepnine, Nicolai Gedda, Alexis Weissenberg
  • Composer: Sergei Rachmaninov, Alexandre Tcherepnine
  • Audio CD (January 12, 1993)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: EMI
  • ASIN: B00004UZMT
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #370,577 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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I had all of these performances on LP when I was in high school and as a student (voice) at the New England Conservatory and later at the Eastman School.
I listened to them until I could read my morning paper through them (two different LP's). Brilliant to put them on one CD. They go together as if recorded on the same day! It was my great fortune to hear Gedda many times in opera (the Met) and recital. Although I never heard him sing this rep with Weissenberg I did hear him sing the Russian repertoire with various competent pianists and, in the case of opera, inspired conductors.

Gedda was of course without peer in this repertoire as a tenor. I also had the opportunity to hear bass Nicolai Ghiarov and an incredible recital in Boston with soprano Galina Vishnevskaya and her husband Dmitri Rostropovich. I personally prefer these songs in the tenor key though. There was an extraordinary "Russian-ness" that sometimes made his singing not quite right (slightly throaty) for the Italian repertoire (French too sometimes). His complete control of his instrument in every part of his range was breathtaking and unique however. It's hard to quibble about even the smallest detail of his performances here with Weissenberg. I've never heard another performance of the Tcherepine Melodies. It's a pity that the composers were not alive to hear these incredible expressions of their work. As collaborators Gedda and Weissenberg were only perhaps matched by the incredible team of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Sviatoslav Richter.

It's a blessing that YouTube has made it possible to see so many of the incredible artists of what I consider to be a golden era of singing not matched today.
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This one was one of the most original reissues in EMI's mid-price Studio line from the late 1980s and early 1990s : the songs of Rachmaninoff are not the most noted part of his output. As for Tcherepnin, you need to delve deep into the liner notes to find out which one it is : father and Russian (then French-emigre) Romantic Nicolai (1873-1945) or French- then US emigre and more modernist son Alexander (1899-1977). Seing who plays the piano - Alexander - I was in fact led into thinking that it was his compositions. Wrong shot : they are dad's (the original LP, EMI C065 14028, also included songs of Alexander). Anyway, father or son, their respective output is all but unknown, except by specialists of the off-the-beaten track.

Rachmaninoff's songs are all you expect of that composer: arch-romantic, mostly salon-like, plangent, sentimental - even if you don't speak Russian, you hear lots of « lyubyu » and derivations, and there are at least three words that every amateur of Russian opera will know even when they don't know a word of Russian : boje (God), smert (death) and lyubyu (love) ; and what other words do you need to know to master any language ? Occasionally they will rise to the desperately vehement (track 9 In the Silence of the Night, track 12 Fragment of Altered De Musset, track 15 The Harvest of Sorrow after Tolstoy) or the dramatic and heroic (track 5 The Storm on a Pushkin poem, track 13 Arion, track 17 The Floods of Spring). And you don't usually hear the Vocalise op 34/14 (track 10) sung by a tenor, although it is, indeed, specifically written for soprano or tenor. At its best the piano writing is in the league with the best piano writing of Rachmaninoff, that from the Preludes, Sonatas, Etudes-Tableaux. At its not so best it is Russian salon-like and sentimental.
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Terrific. Should never be out of print
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