V2543. VLADIMIR ZAKHAROV: Songs by Dargomyzhsky, Balakirev, Mussorgsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Glazunov, Verstovsky, Alabieff, Arensky & Lyapunov. (Russia) Aquarius AQVR 409. [An unforgettable program by this glorious baritone!] - 4607123631928
"Among the many Russo-Soviet baritones who became celebrate opera singers and song recitalists in the first half of the 20th century...Vladimir Zakharov (1905-1965)....struck me as a fine 'central' baritone, neither inclining towards the depths of a bass nor pushing upwards towards the tenor range. Zakharov had excellent enunciation and breath support, but never seemed to vary his dynamics very much, or phrase with the kind of distinction that remains lingering in the mind long after the recording has ceased to play. On records he would show up as a sturdy, attractive secondary lead or tertiary member of the cast: Tonio to Lisitsian's Silvio in PAGLIACCI, Zurga to Lemeshev's Nadir in LES PECHEURS DE PERLES, Albert to Kozlovsky's Werther, Schaunard to Lemeshev's Rodolfo in LA BOHEME, Taddeo to Dolukhanova's Isabella in what may have been the first L'ITALIANA IN ALGIERI on disc. I eventually discovered that he did make opera recordings of more important roles, such as the leads in both DOBRYNIA NIKITICH and DON GIOVANNI, but these albums never came my way. This collection of romances recorded from 1941 to 1960, however, has caused me to reconsider the view of Zakharov I'd formed over the years. Going back to those old opera recordings, I still don't hear the personality or finesse that makes something truly memorable. But Russian romances are by nature intimate, a voicing of emotions too delicate to seemingly capture in words, alone. Here, with piano accompaniment, Zakharov reveals a more rounded art.
There's Verstovsky's 'The singer', and like everything else on this disc, it shows just how surprisingly phonogenic an artist Zakharov was when miked closely. His tonal quality is dark in its lower range, yet heroic and bright at its top without any pressure evident. This romance also demonstrates that he could vary his volume effectively, especially in the repeated phrase before the final cadence. He bows his voice for a range of color in both Alyabyev's 'The hut' and Balakirev's 'The link', as well, and phrases attractively. With a voice so apparently rich, Zakharov could have overwhelmed the broad melody of Lyapunov's 'On the canals of Venice', but instead measures his response carefully, spanning the theme with ease, and provides a refined example of bel canto singing.
The more sonorous pieces on this release find a champion in his performances. There's the start to Lyapunov's 'Mountain peaks', repeated low Cs with controlled volume but full chest resonance, almost bass-like in tone. In a piece which is more of a ballad than a romance, the stirring 'Do you remember, brother, those times', Zakharov's full-voiced delivery and firm production are a delight. It offers brief runs, too, and these are handled with aplomb. However, it's clear from these 31 selections that Zakharov was more than just an estimable member of the troupe. He could be, at least on some occasions, an artist of singular merit. Strongly recommended, and purchasable from Norbeck, Peters & Ford (norpete.com)."
- Barry Brenesal, FANFARE
"The recordings of Valdimir Petrovich Zakharov (1903-1965) are highly prized amongst collectors of Soviet vocal recordings. So much so that when the idea for a CD, dedicated to a collection of previously unpublished recordings of the singer performing classical Russian romances was mooted, the funding was secured from the collector community within the space of just three days.
Zakharov was the star baritone of the All-Union Radio, a troupe which could boast such great artists as Nadezhda Kazantseva, Zara Dolukhanova and Georgy Vinogradov and Anatoly Orfenov. The main remit of the troupe was to familiarize their audience with Western and Russian works both rarely performed on the opera stage and concert platform as well as more popular fare.
Like Vinogradov, Zakharov is not known to have performed on the operatic stage. He possessed quite a large voice and was certainly an expressive and compelling actor (as can be seen in the 1958 film of Rachmaninov's THE MISERLY KNIGHT which provides the only film footage of the singer. The film also provides a rare instance of a tele-opera where a role is not lip-synched by an actor). The voice was firm, well-trained, intensive and elegant. Unfortunately very little is known about the life of this unique and distinctive artist except that he performed the major baritone roles at All-Union Radio from the 1930s until the 1960s and that he taught at the Gnessin Institute. Such a lack of biographical material is not unusual for radio artists. Luckily, biographies have been published on Kazantseva and Dolukhanova as well as Orfenov's autobiography.
Although many of the opera broadcasts with Zakharov's commanding voice have appeared on CD: LES PECHEURS DE PERLES (in the role of Zurga - with Sergei Lemeshev and Nadezhda. Kazantseva (OP3176), Massenet's WERTHER (as Albert - with Ivan Kozlovsky and Maria Maksakova), Rossini's L'ITALIANA IN ALGERI (as Taddeo - with Zara Dolukhanova), and Leoncavallo's PAGLIACCI (in the role of Tonio - with Dimiter Uzunov and Pavel Lisitsian), Bizet's DJAMILEH (OP2919), DIE MEISTERSINGER (OP3189), Dargomyzhsky's ESMERALDA (OP1823), of Don Carlos in Dargomyzhsky's STONE GUEST (with Galina Vishnevskaya), Count Almaviva in Mozart's LE NOZZE DI FIGARO (conducted by Kurt Sanderling), and Ford in Nicolai's DIE LUSTIGE WEIBER VON WINDSOR (OP2893), there are still a large number of unpublished operas in the archives of Gostelradiofond including the title roles in Mozart's DON GIOVANNI, Grechaninov's DOBRYNIA NIKITICH, Alexei Kozlovsky's ULUGBEK, an outstounding Barnaba in Ponchielli's LA GIOCONDA (with Ivan Petrov), Rolando in Verdi's LA BATTAGLIA DI LEGNANO and Evgeny in Dzerzhinsky's QUIET FLOWS THE DON to name but a few. A great many of his song recordings from his numerous radio recitals thankfully also exist. This is the first publication of any of the classical Russian romances still existing in the archives."
- Michael Weston