“This is another delightful disc from PentaTone with a pleasant mix of the familiar, relatively familiar and fresh discoveries….Throughout the soloists, Chorus & Orchestra of the Bolshoi Theatre acquit themselves marvellously if not with quite the distinction that the Russian National Orchestra might be able to bring to this repertoire but one senses the tradition of the performances permeating every note, as one does with the VPO and the Strauss family or Bruckner. Alexander Vedernikov judges the tempi extremely well in every piece and balances the differing parts with great sensitivity….As ever, the recording side of things is immaculate if not quite one of PentaTone’s best efforts. This may be because, as with many opera houses, the acoustic is dry by comparison to a modern concert hall; initially this registers as a shock to the listener but the ear quickly adjusts and soon one forgets that it ever sounded strange!…. Recommended for a glimpse of this justly famous Russian institution even for those who are normally allergic to this type of disc. One hopes that more excerpts (and indeed some complete works) will follow from PentaTone."
“This recent release will be quite a treat for opera fans. While the early years in the Bolshoi’s history were heavily influenced by non-Russian influences (mainly Italian) it was in the 19th century that the emerging feeling of Russian nationalism created a surge of operas by Russian composers like Tchaikovsky, Mikhail Glinka and Alexander Borodin. While many of the Russian operas are now remembered by a few select pieces (Polovtsian Dances from Borodin’s Prince Igor comes to mind) other composer’s operas are still mainstays in opera houses around the world (Tchaikovsky’s Queen of Spades and Eugene Oneigin and Glinka’s Ruslan and Lyudmila).
PentaTone is one of a number of labels that I have come to be very fond of. I have the ultimate respect for the Polyhymnia team (the same team responsible for the fabulous Caro Mitis SACD recordings). The sound is expansive, well detailed, very transparent and gives the listener an excellent feel for the house. I have no trouble "seeing" into the forces and there is plenty of detail captured. As usual, the sound is simply excellent!
Sadly, there are not many recordings available of the Bolshoi. If you think you would like to hear the Bolshoi but never expect to get to Russia, then this SACD is for you. Same goes for opera fans that like Russian opera (and want to hear it done correctly) then this SACD is also for you. Do I like this SACD? You bet, in case you have not already guessed!!
“Now here comes a compilation of excerpts from the present generation of Bolshoi artists, recorded less than a year ago in stunning SACD sound, rendering an impressive realism to the performances. The chorus and orchestra, always among the top contenders in the operatic world, are heard in their full glory with magnificent brass and silken strings. The chorus includes excellent voices, less vibrato-laden than earlier incarnations and with a punch that makes the Polovtsian dances really thrilling…There is an essay on the music in three languages and several fine colour photos from Bolshoi stagings but no texts. Playing time is generous and I wouldn’t mind a second issue, covering operas that are not included here and giving another opportunity to hear some of these singers again and maybe some others from the Bolshoi roster.”
“This co-production of the Bolshoi Theatre (the word translates as "Great") and Pentatone brings a sampling of the typical opera-goers’ experience in one of the great world centres of opera. And in exemplary surround sonics instead of the awful sound of Soviet-ear recordings or the so-so sound of many more recent Russian efforts….The last selection is one of the most energetic and dramatic versions of the orchestral Polovtsian Dances I’ve ever heard - making a grand audiophile wrap up to an interesting survey of the Bolshoi Experience. The acoustics of the huge venue are excellent and the 5.0 surround recreates them with much realism.”