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Recorded in 1990
“Film director Andrei Tarkovsky, famous for science- fiction classics Solaris and Stalker and the historical epic Andrei Rublev, was a master of symbolic effect – the gigantic pendulum, the grotesquely faceless Idiot, living statuary, the angelic murdered child amid falling snow. But against such stylisation the action, vividly captured by video director Humphrey Burton, comes correspondingly alive, no stiff Bolshoi pageant; chorus and soloists act their hearts out. Borodina is an ideal Marina, beautiful and burnished of tone but chillingly self-absorbed; perhaps rightly, she strikes more sparks with Leiferkus's vampiric, honey-toned Rangoni than with Steblianko's stolid but lyrical Pretender. Ognovenko's Varlaam is somewhat young and baritonal, but foreshadows stardom, as does Dyadkova's superbly touching, plangent Feodor. Boitsov's Shuisky, Morosov's noble Pimen and Solodovnikov's Idiot are less outstanding but still excellent. The only outsider is at the centre. Robert Lloyd's Boris first appears (reflecting contemporary portraits) moustached but beardless; the customary hedge appears in later acts, neatly marking the passing years. His finely shaded bassocantante has been criticised for being too light, but such doubts fade before his idiomatic-sounding Russian and magnificent characterisation, culminating in a truly harrowing death scene. Gergiev's reading is less brilliant than his dual recording, often rather soft-centred; but he still brings out the sheer anguished beauty of the score. The excellent stereo soundtrack has also been remastered into DTS surround-sound, and very airy and ambient this sounds, from the opening wave of applause sweeping across the auditorium.”
“an outstanding film...admirably conducted by Valery Gergiev, joined by Robert Lloyd as Boris, one of his greatest performances, and a superb supporting cast.”
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