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Alla Breve

March 13, 1994|WALTER PRICE

TCHAIKOVSKY: "Pikovaya Dama." Maria Guleghina, Gegam Grigorian, Vladimir Chernov, Irina Arkhipova, Olga Borodina, others; forces of Kirov Opera, Valery Gergiev, conductor. Philips 438 141-2. The former Soviet Union may be in shambles, but, judging from this release, St. Petersburg's Kirov is not. Music-director Gergiev leads one of the more sensuous, almost erotically propulsive accounts of Tchaikovsky's great score in years. Moreover, he has a mostly youthful cast (unhindered by former Soviet geriatric musical politics) that can do justice to all the crucial roles. Grigorian as Herman has to work hardest, but he manages both to sing with lovely tone and make his tenorial dramatic points without screaming. Guleghina's soprano is occasionally marred by a characteristic Slavic squal at the top, but the voice is otherwise healthy and she conveys Lisa's almost hysterical love with conviction. Chernov, as Yeletsky, delivers the strongest performance in the opera with sumptuous tone and imaginative color variety. Borodina's lustrous mezzo portends well as Pauline. The veteran, Arkhipova--67 years old at the time of the recording (1992)--sounds almost too young in the title role. Splendid Philips sound with real presence.

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