Dobrowen: Boris Godunov (with Christoff) - Spanish HMV LALP 384/7 (4LP box, ED1)
Box EX / LPs EX / Spanish pressing
This beautiful 4 LP box set from La Voz de su Amo / Spanish HMV (LALP 384/7, Spanish pressing, red/silver semi-circle label – ED1, mono, heavy clamshell box, original inner sleeves and booklet included) features Issay Dobrowen's remarkable presentation of Mussorgsky's Borís Godunov, recorded on the supervision of producer Walter Legge at the Théâtre des Champs-élysées, Paris during 7-21 July 1952, with a cast perhaps unmatched on record. Joining the Ochestre de la Radiodiffusion Française and Choeurs Russes de Paris are:
Boris Christoff – Boris Godunov, Varlaam
Eugenia Zareska – Feodor, Marina
Ludmila Lebedeva – Xenia
Lydia Romanova – Nurse, Hostess
André Bielecki – Shuisky, Khrushchov, Missail
Kim Borg – Shchelkalov, Rangoni
Nicolai Gedda – Grigory (Dimitri)
Gustav Ustinov – A Boyar
Wassili Pasternak – The Simpleton
Stanislav Pieczora – Officer, A Guard
Raymond Bonte – Lavitzky
Eugené Bousquet - Chernikovsky
Wrote the esteemed critic Alan Blyth in the December 1994 issue of The Gramophone:
"This classic set is very welcome back in the catalogue. It has always been held in higher esteem than the stereo remake with Christoff, conducted by Cluytens (EMI, 9/63—nla), and one can now recall just why. Dobrowen's lean, vivid, acutely shaped direction, benefiting from taut rhythms and fastish tempos, is as vital as that on any version since, certainly making this set the recommendation for the Rimsky recension. Its other main attribute is, of course, Christoff's first complete reading on disc of the tortured Tsar, whose role he sings with an enviable combination of firm tone, vital diction and concentrated histrionics, never overstepping the mark. His assumption of two other parts has always been frowned on, but I have to say that he so subtly varies his tone—softer, greyer for Pimen, rotundly rollicking for Varlaam—that the tripling only worries me in the final scene when Pimen comes face to face with the dying ruler. The contrast of his finely shaded Pimen with Ramey's one-dimensional singing on the recent Abbado/Sony version is most marked.
"If that were not enough, there is the beauty and ardour of the young Gedda as Grigory to please the ear and Zareska's seductive, vocally appealing Marina. She also sings a likeable Feodor. Kim Borg doubles successfully as Shchelkalov and an oily Rangoni. And a further tripling comes with Bielecki's wily Shuisky and comic Missail as well as Krushchov. With the lesser parts all more than adequately taken, the casting (by Walter Legge) is faultless. The choral singing is good. We have heard much better on disc since, but few orchestras, in the West at least, have sounded so Russian as these French players but the few have had the benefit of being tortured by Dobrowen.”
Included is a small booklet with essays on the music by Gerard Abraham and Louis Laloy, printed in Spanish only. As was often the case during the early LP era, there is no libretto, but today this can be easily remedied by a quick search online.
This set is very heavy. Besides the 4 LPs, all pressed on thick vinyl, there is the heavy clamshell box. Packaged for shipment, this set will weigh over 3 kg. This means that outside of Europe it will cost @ $55 USD to mail. As this is a “free shipping” listing, I cannot add and shipping charges on to the price of the LP. Please keep this in mind when making a “best offer”. Thank you.
CONDITION – PLEASE READ CAREFULLY:
The gradations of condition I use are as follows: MINT, Near-Mint, Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, Poor.
The condition of the heavy clamshell box is EXCELLENT. There is a tiny bit of rippling to the front panel, and mild shelfwear, but that is all. There are no seamsplits, corner breaks, bends, owners’ markings, or other defects, and the box remains solid, bright, and extremely attractive – overall, an excellent collector’s copy.
The condition of the booklet is VERY GOOD. It shows aging and some handling, but is free of any markings or tears.
The condition of the 4 original inner sleeves is EXCELLENT. They show slight discoloration, but are free of seamsplits, markings, or any other defects.
The condition of the 4 LPs is EXCELLENT throughout. Though surfaces are not absolutely silent, really these are fine copies and playback is superb. Those requiring flawless or near-MINT copies are advised to look elsewhere. Overall, these are excellent collector's copies.