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Rozhdestvensky: Tchaikovsky – The Maid of Orleans (3 CD, APE)

Rozhdestvensky: Tchaikovsky - The Maid of Orleans (3 CD, APE)

Rozhdestvensky: Tchaikovsky - The Maid of Orleans (3 CD, APE)

Composer: Peter Tchaikovsky
Performer: Irina Arkhipova, Evgeny Vladimirov, Andrey Sokolov, Vladimir Makhov, Vladimir Valaitis, Sergei Yakovenko, Lev Vernigora, Claudia Radchenko, Viktor Selivanov, Alexander Sibirtsev, Vartan Mikaelian, Alexandra Firstova
Orchestra: USSR RTV Large Symphony
Conductor: Gennadi Rozhdestvensky
Audio CD
Number of Discs: 3
Format: APE (image+cue)
Label: Melodiya
Size: 894 MB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: yes

Beware. This is an historic recording and one of the worst I have encountered. Its origins seem to be a studio performance in front of a live – and reasonably quiet – audience in the studios of Radio France in 1975. I say ‘seem’ because the inadequate booklet provided with the set gives no details whatsoever of the recording’s origin. Arkhipova in the title role sings very well, but many of the minor roles exhibit the worst characteristics of Slavic singing – uncontrolled tone and formidable wobble. The acoustic does not help. Was the ‘studio’ the local swimming baths I wonder? And the sound itself is simply appalling. It is rather like listening at the end of one of those string and tin can ‘telephones’ made by children. There is no libretto provided, nor is the opera given complete: the ballet music is absent – this is not made clear. Although on three discs, the third is nothing to do with the Opera at all, consisting of songs and arias by a range of composers sung by Arkhipova. This, despite the fact that the labelling on disc three proclaims ‘The Maid of Orleans’. Isn’t this against the Trades Descriptions Act? If not, it should be. There is much fine music in this work, but it is ill-served by this issue. Buyer, take my advice. Look elsewhere. Trevor Cattell.

I am not an audiophile, and I have bought and enjoyed numerous of ‘historical’ recordings. I was especially pleased to see this newly released version of Maid of Orleans come on the market because it’s long been one of my favorite Tchaikovsky operas. I already have the wonderful Bolshoi DVD (2005), the 1949 Kirov recording with Preobrazhenskaya, conducted by Khaikin, and a Melodiya LP version from the 1970s, featuring Irina Arkhipova in the title role. This set is a live recording of a 1975 Paris performance, also with Arkhipova (and her husband Vladislav Piavko in the role of the Dauphin). But it’s an ordeal to listen to! The orchestra is barely audible, the singers fade in and out, and the audio squeals during Joan’s famous aria ‘Prostite vi.’ At times the shuffling of feet and movements of scenery–more audible than any live performance I’ve ever heard–are more clearly recorded than anything else. I wouldn’t be surprised if this recording was made by someone with a not very good tape recorder, sitting somewhere in the house. Part of disk 2 and all of disk 3 give us a 1983 recital by Arkhipova and Piavko, with some glorious singing, but also with a distracting amount of noise. Although the audience is well-behaved, we get a muffled, running conversation among two or more of the audience between each song/aria. Once again, my best guess is that what we’re hearing is a recording made by someone sitting in the hall. All in all, this is an incredibly shoddy recording, by turns painful and irritating. –T.J.Rice

4 thoughts on “Rozhdestvensky: Tchaikovsky – The Maid of Orleans (3 CD, APE)”

  1. I guess this very negative comment doesn’t mean this recording as it is not live and not from Paris as it is from 1969. The sound seems very clear to me.

  2. Thanks for the caveats in English.
    I do not even know the Russian alphabet.
    But most of all, thank you for your gargantuan labors re-uploading all your works.
    You are a real trooper.
    Most appreciated.

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