Nicolai Ghiaurov

The Art of Nikolaï Ghiaurov

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This disk draws from Ghiaurov's Russian and French repertoire, mostly from roles with which he was closely associated, but featuring also some relative rarities in his repertoire.

While he sometimes over-enunciates, Ghiaurov's voluminous voice, sense of drama, and legato line are excellent in Godunov's solos and the scene with Shuisky. However, in the Act II monologue, the balance is sometimes off between voice and orchestra, Ghiaurov seeming so much closer to the microphones that the distance is distracting. The chorus in the Coronation Scene lacks brilliance and in the opening sounds under-powered, and so the scene is not as overwhelming as it might be. Neither Neli Bozhkova nor Nadya Dobriyanova, as Feodor and Xenia, sounds particularly youthful, but as Shuisky, Milen Paounov is appropriately calculating.

The selections are well-arranged, with Galitsky's aria from Prince Igor followed by Gremin's from Eugene Onegin, showing off the different colorations that Ghiaurov adopted for each, vulgar exuberance for the first, aristocratic sensibility and dignity for the second.

He makes a foray into the baritone repertoire with the Toreador Song from Carmen, which he sings with obvious pleasure if not the sexual strutting or Gallic lightness of touch that singers like Van Dam have brought to the piece. Ralph's lachrymose drinking song from La jolie fille de Perth is expressive, but could have been even made more so with more obvious attempts at self-control.

The sound is quite good, aside from the balance quirks mentioned above. The packaging includes brief notes in French, English, and German.

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