Wagner: Lohengrin (in Russian) - Chkonia, Timokhin; Simeonov. Kiev, 1962


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Any doubt on the nature of the debt the Romantic school of Russian composers owed to Richard Wagner can be pretty definitively settled by this performance from the Mariinsky Theatre. Under the sensitive baton of Konstatin Simeonov, Lohengrin in Russian sounds eerily like something by Tchaikovsky, both in the etherial prelude and in its moments of bombast. The chorus and orchestra are excellent (especially the very fine horn section) and the singers are solid, but unfortunately for the most part unknown. Only Lamara Chkonia's passionate Elsa and the stentorian Grail Knight of Vladimir Timokhin are credited. Both are very fine, though Timokhin's full-blooded, pingy tenor strikes me as more of a Siegmund than a Lohengrin. The other singers, whoever they are, are generally excellent: there's a powerful-voiced Herald and a commanding Telramund, and if the Ortrud edges toward the strident, her performance has an appealing recklessness that really comes to life on record. This performance may be something of a curio, but that doesn't mean it's not a thrilling listen.

OD 11073-3