Verdi: La Forza del Destino. Galina Gorchakova, Gegam Grigorian, Nikolai Putilin; Valery Gerviev, Kirov Chorus and Orchestra, St. Petersburg. Philips 446 951-2 (3-disc set).
The problem I have in trying to review any full-length opera is finding a large enough block of time to accommodate the whole thing in a single sitting. With a large work I usually wind up doing my listening piecemeal, but this time, after a few minutes' preview the week before, I set aside a Saturday morning especially for the purpose. I was interrupted anyway, but the listening experience was largely intact and wholly worthwhile. I can't remember when Philips have produced so convincing a sonic portrait in an opera. The sound is clear and firm and clean. There is a moderate distance involved but not enough to induce the warm fuzzies that sometimes show up on Philips' efforts. Happily, the singing, too, is strong and assured, from a cast with which I was almost entirely unfamiliar. Gergiev gets as much out of Verdi's melodrama as I have ever heard, even if it is a score I still find less than riveting. Obviously, it hasn't the spectacle of Aida, the tunefulness of Rigoletto, Traviata or Trovatore, or the biting intensity of Otello, and any production falls a little short in my mind. However, the dedicated opera buff is bound to get much pleasure from the release, especially as the recording is based on the composer's original St. Petersburg version of 1862. With the exception of an opening prelude instead of the more familiar overture, I didn't notice the changes myself; but, as I said, the connoisseur will take delight. Especially if sound is a consideration, this new edition must rank among the best Forzas available.
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|Article Type:||Sound Recording Review|
|Date:||May 1, 1998|
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