OP0865. SADKO (Rimsky-Korsakov), recorded 1953, Golovanov Cond.Bolshoi Theatre Ensemble; Georgi Nelepp, Pavel Lisitsian, Mark Reizen, Ivan Kozlovsky, Sergei Krasovsky, Elizaveta Shumskaya, Vera Davydova, Elizaveta Antonova, etc.; Damaev, Smirnov, Neshdanova, Witting, Morskoy, Gamrekeli, Gryzunov, Zabela-Vrubel, Chaliapin, Katulskaya, Koshetz, Obukhova, Ozerov, Mikhailov, Pozemkovsky, Lemeshev, Stepanova & Vladimir Petrov: Sadko - Various Excerpts, recorded 1901-70. 3-Arlecchino ARL 23-25, w.47pp. Brochure with photos & brief bios in French & English. Very long out-of-print, final ever-so-slightly used copy.
"If SADKO intrigues you, you may wish to investigate [this] earlier version which has been reissued on Arlecchino. This is one of the classics of the Soviet era. It is well recorded for its time and boasts an extremely fine cast....Golovanov is a wonderfully expressive conductor; it's safe to say that you haven't really heard the Scene by the Lake until you've heard what he does with it."
- Don C. Seibert, FANFARE, July/Aug., 1995
“A superb singer and powerful actor with a highly expressive, rich voice of astonishing color and range, [Reizen’s] forte was legendary, but he also had a pianissimo so expressive it could stop a rehearsal to allow Natalia Shpiller singing opposite him to regain her composure, while the rest of the cast were drying their eyes.”
- Richard D. Sylvester, TCHAIKOVSKY’S COMPLETE SONGS
“This inestimable recording is one of the supreme performances to have emerged from the Soviet Union. It features blazing stellar lights of the Bolshoi, and is lead by the stupendous Nikolai Golovanov, one of the most gifted and exciting conductors of the 20th century. Golovanov breathes life into this series of episodes in the legendary story of the hero Sadko. Myth comes alive in the hands of these great artists, as the opera sweeps through the saga of the enterprising, and quite capitalistic figure, the singing adventurer Sadko, who wants to broaden the commercial market of the free city of Novgorod.
The cast, chorus and orchestra are literally on fire. There is such excitement, such glorious singing in this recording that I never tire of listening to it. And of course, there's Golovanov, the master. A more exciting conductor could not be found. He was the head waters from which flowed the great opera conducting tradition which ran through Melik-Pashayev, Khaikin, Kondrashin, and Ermler. The other extant recordings of SADKO pale by comparison. Gergiev, Svetlanov and Simonov can't hold a candle to SADKO in the hands of the master.
The real heroes in this recording are many. Georgi Nelepp, the Bolshoi's leading dramatic tenor of this era, has a voice of such strength and vocal beauty one can only wonder why he wasn't more well known in the West. A kind of Russian Jussi Björling, Nelepp's nuanced voice is gorgeous from ringing top to sensuous bottom - big, expressive, heroic and under control. The other cast members who make this a dream of a recording are also famous Soviet artists of this era: Ivan Kozlovsky, Mark Reizen and Pavel Lisitsian make cameo appearances in the famous market place scene.
In keeping with the mythological nature of this opera, there is something archetypal about this recording. All the voices are perfect for the roles, the chorus is tight, dramatic and powerful, and the conducting is thrilling throughout the dramatic unfolding of the legend.”
- Marvin B. Kujawski
“Elisaveta Shumsyaya made a relatively late début on the leading stage of her home-town, but her success there was of all the greater duration. In the one and a half decades after the Second World War she developed into one of the most indispensable singers at the Bolshoi Theatre and also at the studios of the Russian record company Melodiya. With her light, easy but substantial soprano voice she participated in around a dozen complete opera recordings, mostly in works by Western European composers.”
- Kurt Malisch, VOICES BEHIND THE IRON CURTAIN