The outstanding characteristic of this live 2009 recording of Eugene Onegin is conductor Mark Gorenstein's poetic interpretation of the score and the refinement and elegance of the playing of the State Symphony Orchestra of Russia. This polished performance has the detailed sensitivity and flexibility of chamber music but also fully expresses the distinctive Russian power of the piece. Gorenstein is especially attuned to the atmospherics of the score and effectively conveys the specificity of the setting of each scene. The dances in the second and third acts are wonderfully zippy, a technicolor contrast to the more subtle pastels of much of the other music. The singing is fine for the most part, but would not in itself be a primary reason for acquiring this recording. The weakest link is Dmitry Voropaev, who sounds pinched and nasal as Lensky. Vladislav Sulimsky in the title role sings with full, attractive tone, but doesn't fully capture Onegin's initial caddishness, so his dramatic transformation between the second and third acts lacks the impact it should have. Ekaterina Godovanets is warmly lyrical throughout but more is convincing as the mature Tatjana than as Tatjana the girl. The intensity and passion of the leads make the last act the most emotionally resonant and satisfying part of the performance. The opera was recorded live at the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall in Moscow in what's described as a "Version for Concert Performance," although it's not clear exactly what that means except that the act and scene designations are removed. There is enough audience noise to be distracting, and frequent outbursts of feeble applause break up the dramatic continuity. Otherwise, MDG's sound is clean and warmly ambient.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Eddins
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2