OP2789. BORIS GODOUNOV, recorded 1952, w.Dobrowen Cond. NRDF Ensemble; Boris Christoff, Kim Borg, Nicolai Gedda, André Bieleki, Wassily Pasternak, Eugenia Zareska, etc. (Slovenia) 3-Living Stage 4035127. Long out-of-print, final copies! - 3830025734065
"This 1952 recording was the first of two in which bass Boris Christoff sang the roles of Boris, Varlaam, and Pimen, something that only could be managed on recordings, since Boris meets Pimen in the last act. Christoff’s voice and temperament were unique and unforgettable, and so one of the ways in which he differentiates the characters is to perform Pimen’s music at an almost consistent whisper. It works, and it’s very beautiful to boot. Varlaam, on the other hand, still sounds like Boris, just wackier. Anyone who doesn’t own a Boris Christoff performance of BORIS GODUNOV has a hole in his/her collection.
This production omits the St Basil Scene, but the Kromy Forest scene is complete. Part of Pimen’s monastery monolog is cut and the second part of the Polish act is omitted as well. This last is regrettable, since it makes us miss much of the role of Rangoni, atmospherically sung here by Kim Borg. Eugenia Zareska sings Marina lustily (she also sings Feodor and sounds entirely different), and her duet with the young Nicolai Gedda as the false Dmitri is the best on discs. In fact Gedda is remarkable throughout. There’s not a weak link in the cast, and Issay Dobrowen’s leadership is very exciting.
Precisely where they got the nasty cacophony of bells in the Coronation Scene is a mystery, and it’s a pity they aren’t recorded better–it’s a wonderful racket.... Christoff’s Boris is so towering that I’d recommend listening through mud to experience it. The Clock Scene is as terrifying as the Death Scene is tragic."
- Robert Levine
"...there is the beauty of the voice itself, black and majestic, but capable of melting to the warmest of velvet; a voice that can damn and bless within the same breath. Add to all this a magnificent sense of presence and in Boris Christoff we have a true mastersinger of our time."
- Michael Letchford, Liner Notes to HMV LP set
“Borg was engaged to sing the oily monk Rangoni to Christoff's Boris Godunov in Issay Dobrowen's ground-breaking recording of Mussorgsky's opera for EMI in 1952. Soon, Deutsche Grammophon was on his trail, and he made a number of recordings of opera, oratorio and song for the company during the following 10 years. Borg was much admired in Germany and, from 1965 to 1968, was a member of the Hamburg State Opera. But he was always welcome in his native Scandinavia, and from 1960 was a member of the Stockholm Opera, where his Scarpia was much praised in 1963. In 1971, he sang Fafner and Hagen in the company's performances of Wagner's RING. A year earlier, he sang Osmin at the Drottningholm festival, another histrionic triumph. He appeared in concerts at the Salzburg festival from 1956, singing Mozart, and in 1965-66 sang Pimen in Karajan's staging of BORIS GODUNOV.”
- Alan Blyth, THE GUARDIAN, 30 May, 2000