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Following their acclaimed recording of Francesca da Rimini, the BBC Philharmonic and its Chief Conductor Gianandrea Noseda continue their exploration of Rachmaninoff’s three one-act operas.
The Miserly Knight is the finest of Rachmaninoff’s operas. If circumstances had been more favourable he would have composed far more of the stage, but the three short operas he did complete show that he had all the makings of a great opera composer.
It is quite possible that The Miserly Knight was inspired by Rachmaninoff’s spendthrift father who frittered away the family’s fortune and, following his sister’s death from diphtheria, separated from Sergei’s mother. The financial incompetence of Rachmaninoff’s father may have drawn the composer to Pushkin’s ‘little tragedy’ The Miserly Knight, that Pushkin wrote in the autumn of 1830 in which the rich Baron’s destitute son is forced to consider murdering his father in order to access his inheritance. Pushkin’s drama makes an excellent opera text, full of striking phrases and images, and almost ideal for musical setting in its sequence of episodes and ideas.
Opera is one of Gianandrea Noseda’s great musical passions and it is a genre he has explored to stunning effect with the BBC Philharmonic. In September he became Music Director at Teatro Regio in Turin, one of Europe’s leading opera houses, and he also appeared with the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, and La Scala, Turin.
This enthralling recording features amongst the soloists, the talented young bass Ildar Abdrazakov and tenor Misha Didyk. This Summer Abrazakov had his debut at the Salzburg Festival and 2010 will see him in a new production of Attila at the Metropolitan Opera, while Didyk has, during the past three seasons, emerged as one of opera’s most exciting young lyric tenors.
Sergei Rachmaninov: Skupoy ritsa (The Miserly Knight), Op. 24
Scene 1: Whatever happens, I shall appear at the tournanemt (Albert, Servant)
Scene 1: What has the idler Solomon to say? (Albert, Servant)
Scene 1: Your humble servant' (Jew, Albert)
Scene 1: Yes, at the Baron's funeral more money will flow than tears (Jew, Albert)
Scene 1: What? Poison my father! (Albert, Jew)
Scene 2: Like the young libertine awaiting a meeting with some wily harlot (Baron)
Scene 2: Like some demon, from here I can rule the world! (Baron)
Scene 2: It doesn't seem much, but of how many human cares (Baron)
Scene 2: Every time I start to open a chest! (Baron)
Scene 2: But after me who will have possession of it? (Baron)
Scene 3: Believe me, Sire, I have long suffered the shame of bitter poverty (Albert, Duke)
Scene 3: Baron, I'm pleased to see you so hale and hearty (Duke, Baron, Albert)
Scene 3: You, here? You, here? (Baron, Albert, Duke)
“…the Miserly Knight… sung with commanding presence and rich, malleable tone by Ildar Abdrazakov as he drools over his wealth and the cruel ways in which it has been amassed. He is well matched by, and contrasted with, the passionate tenor of Misha Didyk as his resentful son, Albert, and by the sly, ingratiating characterisation of the Moneylender by tenor Peter Bronder. Orchestral atmosphere, backed by a spectrum of colour comparable to that of the Second Symphony, is compellingly established by Noseda, whose theatrical instincts also reflect and enhance the opera's dramatic thrust.”
“..Gianandrea Noseda, masterly at pacing and responsive to orchestral colour… Ildar Abdrazakov, certainly the finest bass voice to emerge from Russia in decades. …the performance exerts a fierce, unrelenting grip. This disc comes strongly recommended.”
9th October 2009
“Noseda conducts with his trademark mixture of intensity and intelligence, and there are some fine insights into the way Rachmaninov creates a mood of oppressive malignancy...The great performance comes from Misha Didyk as his son, Albert – a man as selfish as his father”
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