OP0244. Kascheï the Immortal (Rimsky-Korsakoff), recorded 1948, w.Samosud Cond. Moscow Radio Ensemble; Piotr Pontryagin, Pavel Lisitsian, Viera Gradova, Antoinina Kleshchova & Konstantin Polyaev. (Russia) Aquarius AQVR 133. - 4607123630877
CRITIC REVIEW & PLOT:
“Lisitsian had a major career….enjoying three decades as a leading artist at the Bolshoi. He was the foremost interpreter of Tchaikovsky’s baritone rôles – perhaps the finest Onégin of his time. He also created several rôles in works by Prokofiev and was admired for his interpretation of leading rôles in the operas of Verdi, Gounod, Bizet and Puccini. The voice was a supremely beautiful instrument used with the phrasing and sensitivity of a fine instrumentalist.”
- Vivian A. Liff, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, Jan./Feb., 2011
"This Armenian baritone remains one of the best-kept musical secrets of the old Soviet state. The voice was remarkably warm, bright, and well produced, with a faster-than-normal vibrato that was perfectly even and possessed no beat. He also had Schipa’s own gift for phrasing in an imaginative, highly musical fashion that breathed life into whatever he did; and he had the technique and breath control to support his ambitious efforts."
- Barry Brenesal, FANFARE, July/Aug., 2002
"In Slavic folklore, Koschei is an archetypal male antagonist, described mainly as abducting the hero's wife. None of the existing tales actually describes his appearance, though in book illustrations, cartoons and cinema he has been most frequently represented as a very old and ugly-looking man. Koschei is also known as Koschei the Immortal or Koschei the Deathless as well as Tsar Koschei.
Koschei cannot be killed by conventional means targeting his body. His soul (or death) is hidden separate from his body inside a needle, which is in an egg, which is in a duck, which is in a hare, which is in an iron chest (sometimes the chest is crystal and/or gold), which is buried under a green oak tree, which is on the island of Buyan in the ocean. As long as his soul is safe, he cannot die. If the chest is dug up and opened, the hare will bolt away; if it is killed, the duck will emerge and try to fly off. Anyone possessing the egg has Koschei in their power. He begins to weaken, becomes sick, and immediately loses the use of his magic. If the egg is tossed about, he likewise is flung around against his will. If the egg or needle is broken (in some tales, this must be done by specifically breaking it against Koschei's forehead), Koschei will die.”
- Ned Ludd