V0762. VLADIMIR KASTORSKY: Songs by Rubinstein, Massenet, Brahms, Hertel, Schumann, Glinka, Borodin, Dargomyzhsky, etc.; Arias from Zauberflöte, Les Huguenots, Lakmé, Faust, Pique Dame, Ruslan and Ludmila, Prince Igor, Mazeppa & Boris Godounov. (England) Nimbus 7917, recorded 1906-39. - 0710357791727
“Vladimir Kastorsky was one of a number of outstanding singers associated with the Imperial Russian Opera in St. Petersburg, and, like so many other Russian artists active at that time his records (made in the first decade of the 20th Century) have always fascinated the collector. Possessing an exceptional voice he was one of an important quartet of basses - the others being Feodor Chaliapin, Lev Sibiryakov, and Konstantin Serebriakov - who saw the commencement of an artistic and vocal line that extended into the late 20th century with Alexander Kipnis, Mark Reizen, Maxim Michailov, Ivan Petrov, Artur Eizen, Boris Stokalov, Evgeny Nesterenko and Paata Buchuladze. What they had in common was the ability to sing the demanding roles requiring gravitas that has for the most part dominated the Russian operatic scene….Had Kastorsky performed outside Russia Kastorsky himself might well have become even more universally acclaimed than his great colleagues and rivals Chaliapin and Sibiryakov, for it is reported that in certain roles he surpassed them both.
Kastorsky considered management of the breath to be the most important aspect of vocal technique. He followed the axiom of those famous Italian maestri who claimed ‘If you know how to breathe, you know how to sing’. Kastorsky also followed more purely intellectual pursuits; he enrolled as an external student at the St. Petersburg University where he studied philology and natural sciences, both subjects becoming a vital asset in his constant search for perfect articulation and a beautiful vocal sound.
On 19 May, 1908, at the age of only 37 it was Kastorsky, as a member of the Moscow Imperial Opera Company, who created the role of Pimen in BORIS GODUNOV at the sensational first performance in Paris. It was an all star cast that included Chaliapin as the Tsar. Dimitri Smirnov sang the false Dimitri, the Marina was Natalie Yermolenko, Ivan Alchevsky sang Shuisky, Vasili Sharanov was Varlaam and Mitrofan Chuprinikov sang the Innocent. Throughout his professional career Kastorsky would always be so fortunate and talented to appear with singers of international repute, particularly at the Marinsky.
Indeed Kastorsky’s vocal method and his style of singing was frequently compared with that of Mattia Battistini, the universally acknowledged epitome of Italian Bel Canto, and with such a comparison made, no greater praise was considered possible….He was still singing major roles in the theatre in 1930, and when he retired from the stage he formed an operatic quartet with Mitrofan Chuprinikov and the Kedrov brothers. Kastorsky became a committed exponent of folk music, always including the national songs of his native land in his recital programmes. For almost another decade he divided his time between teaching and touring the provinces with the vocal quartet. He was still performing well in his seventy-fifth year, and shortly before his death he was invited (as a special guest) to sing a small role at the Bolshoi in Tchaikovsky’s PIQUE DAME, a wonderful testament to his longevity as a singer of the front rank. One of the most admired artists of his generation Vladimir Kastorsky died in Leningrad on 2 February 1948.”
- Alan Bilgora