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CHAN 9629
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CHAN 9629
Russian Arias, Vol. 2

Sergei Aleksashkin / Philharmonia/Rozhdestvensky - Russian Arias, Vol. 2

The Classical Shop
release date: May 1998

Originally recorded in 1997


Philharmonia Orchestra

Gennady Rozhdestvensky

Sergei Aleksashkin


Ambrosian Opera Chorus


Blackheath Halls, London


Brian Couzens


Ralph Couzens

Richard Smoker


Record Label


Vocal & Song

Total Time - 73:21
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Russian Arias, Vol. 2



Select Complete Single Disc for

Song of the Viking Guest from Sadka (Scene 4)

  'The waves break with a roar on the fearsome rocks.'  

Sobakin's Aria from The Tsar's Bride (Act IV scene 1)

  'Sleep has overcome her . . .'  



Vladimir Galitzky's Recitative and Song from Prince Igor (Act I scene 1)

  'It would be a sin to conceal it . . .'  

Prince Igor's Aria from Prince Igor (Act II)

  'There is neither sleep nor rest for my tormented soul . . .'  

Khan Konchak's Aria from Prince Igor (Act II)

  'Are you well, Prince?'  



Varlaam's Song from Boris Godunov (Scene 4)

  'It all happened in the town of Kazan!'  



The Old Gypsy's Tale from Aleko

  'By the magical power of the singing . . .'  

Aleko's Cavatina from Aleko

  'The entire encampment sleeps.'  



Kochubey's Aria from Mazeppa (Act II scene 1)

  'So this is my reward for the denunciation . . .'  

Prince Gremin's Aria from Eugene Onegin (Act III, scene 1)

  'All ages succumb to love . . .'  



Salieri's First Monologue from Mozart and Salieri

  'Everyone says: there is no justice on earth.'  

Salieri's Second Monologue from Mozart and Salieri

  'No, I can no longer resist . . .'  

Salieri's Third Monologue from Mozart and Salieri

  'You will fall asleep . . .'  

Exciting young bass Sergej Aleksashkin performs an attractive and varied selection of Russian operatic arias.
This album is Sergej Aleksaskin’s first recording on the Chandos label. He graduated from Saratov Conservatoire in 1982 and trained at La Scala for the next two years. Since 1989 he has been a soloist of the Kirov Opera in St Petersberg. His international career has taken him to many famous opera houses, including the Metropolitan Opera House, New York and The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London.
Gennady Rozhdestvensky is one of the most famous conductors of the twentieth century. His reputation with Native repertoire is legendary and is justly displayed in this new recording.

It was the thirty-year-old Osip Petrov who really started the great Russian bass tradition when he sang the role of the heroic peasant Ivan Susanin in the first performance of Glinka’s A Life for the Tsar in 1836. To this day, the Russian bass tradition survives. Its characteristics include a wide range of vocal colour which encompasses high romantic passion and tragic brooding, as well as an almost wild, grotesque humour, all of which bring vividly to life the fantasic operatic characters that Russians so brilliantly depict in their music.

This wild, grotesque humour is displayed in the character of Varlaam in Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov. In his aria, Varlaam, a raffish friar, is completely inebriated and boasts of his heroic deeds in the seige of Kazan. The orchestral lurchings tell us, however, that we should not treat his account too seriously! In a similarly jocular vein, Prince Galitzky, from Borodin’s Prince Igor, complains how boring he finds office life and how he wishes to pass his time as a ruler, drinking with the prettiest girls he can lay his hands on! It is one of the most famous arias in the repertoire and a real show stopper. But it is the struggle between Igor’s army of Russians and the Polovtsians under the Khan Konchak with which the opera is essentially concerned. In Prince Igor’s famous aria, the captured prince mourns his defeat and the capture of himself and his army, and longs to be united with his wife, Yaroslavna.

Although, Rimsky-Korsakov’s bass roles were widely varied, all were imbued with his magical touch which gives the music an almost supernatural edge. His glittering orchestrations can be heard to great effect in the colourful fairy-tale opera Sadko (1898), of which the ’Aria of the Viking Guest’ is most evocative. In the Tsar’s Bride (1899), Sobakin sings of the conflict between the honour that is now coming to him and his fears for his daughter’s happiness. In Salieri’s three monologues from Mozart and Salieri (1898), Rimsky-Korsakov powerfully conveys Pushkin’s brilliant story of the famous, if apocryphal lengend of Salieri’s attempt on Mozart’s life.

Above all else, Tchaikovsky wanted sucess as an opera composer, a pleasure which was largely denied him. Now, of course, Tchaikovsky’s greatness as an opera composer is in no doubt: the yearning passion soaring melodies and colour of the scores have secured his reputation in this genre. Eugene Onegin (1879) is his most popular opera, but his others are being increasingly performed. The exciting and colourful Mazeppa (1884) has received particular attention, and from this opera we hear the dark and pained aria of the suffering Kochubey, imprisoned and tortured for his denunciation of Mazeppa. Two arias are included from Rachmaninov’s opera Aleko (1893). This one-act Pushkin opera deals with the difficulty of shedding sophisticated values of the city in favour of a supposedly ideal existence in the wild. Two arias featured here give an excellent flavour of drama and colour of this opera, which deserves to be much better known.

"...Alexsashkin is a discovery - a genuine Russian basso with the requisite timbre and a musicianship excelling many of his more celebrated contemporaries. Rozhdestvensky is in fine form throughout."

Alan Ulrich - San Franciso Examiner - 2 October 1998

                 Performance *****          Sound *****

"...Sergei Aleksashkin’s voice is so immense in its range and so flexible ... It is a magnificent sound: sonorous, brooding and apparently bottomless; he is a fine actor, switching convincingly between characters ..."

Claire Wrathall - BBC Music magazine - 1998

"...His [Aleksashkin] collection of Russian Arias Volume 2 benefits from the fine playing of the Philharmonia orchestra and the idiomatic  conducting of Gennady Rozhdestvensky and offers a wide selection from the a repertoire uniquely rich in parts for the lowest male voice... there’s no denying the regular beauty of his timbre and his aptness for the material he sings."

Opera Now - September/October 1998

"...Alexashkin has the range to give subtle contrast to different roles in the same opera ... Rozhdestvensky and the Philharmonia are superb companians in thee ventures into a great repertory and Chandos back them well..."

JW - Gramophone - September 2011

                 ’Classical CD Choice’

            Performance *****          Sound *****

"A generous dip into the riches of Russian repertoire"

Michael Scott Rohan - Classic CD - September 1998

"...Sergei Alexashkin mixes the familiar and the not-so-familair in this fine selection of Russian arias. Scrupulous musicianship and an ability to convey the anguish at the heart of so many Russian bass roles help ensure that there is not a weal piece here... Rozhdestvensky and the Philharmonia supply attractive, colourful accompaniments."

Loomis - American Record Guide - January/February 1999

R Belcher

P Macgregor