Alexander Sveshnikov, Russian choral conductor

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Alexander Sveshnikov, Russian choral conductor

Post by Lance » Fri Mar 12, 2010 10:31 pm

I have been listening to Volume 1 of Russian Folksongs - a two CD set (one of three 2-CD sets issued by Melodiya of Sveshnikov). This one is the first volume [17-2003]. The preponderance are arranged by Sveshnikov, who had perhaps one of the most incredible abilities to deal with unaccompanied male/female choruses. Sveshnikov lived between 1890 and 1980, and led choruses almost to the day of his passing. He was considered a taskmaster of the highest caliber but got results from his choruses. These Russian-derived recordings are all performed by the State Academic Russian Choir.

The creative work of a master of choral art, Alexander Vassilievich Sveshnikov is one of the highest achievements of the Russian culture of singing. Sveshnikov devoted his whole life to choral singing, continued and developed best traditions of the national school of singing. He founded the USSR State Academic Russian Choir in 1936 and was its artistic director and conductor for more than 40 years. The choir has become well known in the world and renowned for its unsurpassed vocal skill and a particularly warm and heartfelt style of singing.

A Russian choir director by the name of Serge Boldireff (with whom I made two LP recordings with his "Russian Moods" chorus) was the man who first introduced me to the recordings of Sveshnikov several decades ago. I owe Boldireff a great debt of gratitude for that introduction.

You may recall the great Richter recording of Beethoven's "Choral Fantasy" originally issued on a Monitor LP (subsequently on a Urania CD). The chorus used for that recording (as poor as the quality of the recording itself is concerned) was Alexander Sveshnikov. ♪
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Re: Alexander Sveshnikov, Russian choral conductor

Post by Chalkperson » Fri Mar 12, 2010 10:53 pm

His Melodiya recordings are almost impossible to find, you can find some of the Folk Songs on other labels, his Rachmaninov Vespers is, without doubt, the finest reading ever...
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Re: Alexander Sveshnikov, Russian choral conductor

Post by Ted Quanrud » Fri Mar 12, 2010 11:08 pm

Hi Lance --

Don't forget Sveshnikov's recording of the Rachmaninov Vespers. Despite its age andd recording quality, it sweeps the competition aside.

Sveshnikov has been called the Russian Robert Shaw; calling Shaw the American Sveshnikov may be more appropriate

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Re: Alexander Sveshnikov, Russian choral conductor

Post by Lance » Fri Mar 12, 2010 11:19 pm

Absolutely - the Rachmaninoff Vespers is probably Sveshnikov's most "legendary" recording of all. I first heard it on an Angel/Melodiya two-LP set (which I still have). It has also been issued on CD [Melodiya 1001365, recorded in Russia in 1965]. It's a winner, to be sure!
Ted Quanrud wrote:Hi Lance --

Don't forget Sveshnikov's recording of the Rachmaninov Vespers. Despite its age andd recording quality, it sweeps the competition aside.

Sveshnikov has been called the Russian Robert Shaw; calling Shaw the American Sveshnikov may be more appropriate
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Re: Alexander Sveshnikov, Russian choral conductor

Post by Chalkperson » Sat Mar 13, 2010 12:47 am

Ted Quanrud wrote:Hi Lance --

Don't forget Sveshnikov's recording of the Rachmaninov Vespers. Despite its age andd recording quality, it sweeps the competition aside.

Sveshnikov has been called the Russian Robert Shaw; calling Shaw the American Sveshnikov may be more appropriate
I have a dozen CD's of the Vespers, Tchaikovsky's "Litergy of St. John" is another less well known favourite, although I don't have Sveshnikov's, but, I like Evgen Savchuk and the National Choir of Ukraine "Dumka" best, as opposed to Matthew Best, on Hyperion...Savchuck's Vespers is pretty good too although I prefer Paul Hillier and the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir on Harmonia Mundi, nothing beats Sveshnikov though...
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Re: Alexander Sveshnikov, Russian choral conductor

Post by John F » Sun Mar 14, 2010 5:39 am

Sveshnikov's first recording to be published here, I believe, was of unaccompanied choruses by Sergei Taneyev, whose music was then almost unknown outside Russia. The Melodiya recording was published by Angel Records, way off their usually well beaten path. It opened many ears, including mine, to the music, the composer, and definitely the conductor.
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Re: Alexander Sveshnikov, Russian choral conductor

Post by Lance » Thu Jun 24, 2010 8:37 pm

Image

In my constant quest for recordings by Russian choral conductor ALEXANDER SVESHNIKOV, I took a chance on one I saw advertised on the Internet:

Here is a review that appeared when the disc was originally released in 1994, and I quote it verbatim:

Album: Folk Songs of Old Russia
Artist: The Volga Choir—The Sveshnikov Choir
Release Date: 2/4/1994
Legacy International CD 367, 52:41, ADD

It's difficult to be sure given the Legacy label's abominable lack of documentation, but this CD appears to be a composite of two phonograph records recorded sometime in the last 30 years. The first six tracks (about 21 minutes) are a traditional, mixed (male and female) Russian chorus. The next ten tracks (about 33 minutes) are a folk singing group, usually accompanied by an accordion and sometimes also by percussion and/or strummed instrument. (It's impossible even to determine which of the two groups listed on the label comes first.)

Russian chorus, especially mixed chorus, is famous for its great separation of voices, and these groups are not exception, with their heavenly sopranos and otherworldly basses. The tenor soloists in the first group move the listener with the vulnerability of their style there's nothing bluff or brash about them. The arrangements are gorgeous. The single best track would probably be the opener, "Evening Bells," which features a delicately passionate tenor backed by basses imitating the bells of the title.

The second group can be a bit hokey when they play instruments, but when they sing without, they are powerful and even more soaring than the first, as on "Between Steep Banks," notable for having a soloist and a dozen tenors who all sound like Al Jolson!. On a couple of tracks the chorus disappears leaving the tenor soloist and a few instruments; one such track, "The Lonely Accordion," could almost be French musette in its sophistication. The Carreras-like tenor isn't too bad either.

Despite the pops and hiss this album is a feisty little winner, a must for those who like either Russian chorus or slightly popularized folk music. ~ Kurt Keefner, All Music Guide


While I procured the disc as used for less than $6/USD, it is a poor transfer obviously taken from LP recordings. Melodiya LPs were not noted to be the quietest nor the best engineered. Regardless, Sveshnikov's work rises above any imperfections. This CD is currently available from Amazon-USA for $12. Just be aware of the technical flaws in an LP-to-CD transfer, which also has some distortion in the loudest choral passages.

How I wish Melodiya would release his all-Tchaikowsky disc (in stereo), which appeared on an Angel-Melodiya LP some years ago.
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Re: Alexander Sveshnikov, Russian choral conductor

Post by Chalkperson » Thu Jun 24, 2010 10:12 pm

I also have this Melodiya disc dedicated to Sveshnikov's Centenary, it's very difficult to find though...

http://www.amazon.com/Concert-Dedicater ... 76&sr=1-10

Sveshnikov's Boys and Mens Chorus also appear on Rudolph Barshai's recording of Beethoven's Missa Solemnis...

http://www.amazon.com/Classical-Evoluti ... 349&sr=1-3
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Re: Alexander Sveshnikov, Russian choral conductor

Post by Lance » Thu Jun 24, 2010 10:52 pm

Yes, both of these recordings you mention utilize the various Sveshnikov choruses, but not conducted by Sveshnikov. The Beethoven is conducted by Viktor Popov. I now have three 2-CD sets Melodiya/Max Classics label with the original tapes and masters used to produce the CDs. These are among the best transfers ever made and include now six (6) CDs [in 2-CD sets] of Sveshnikov's art- and folksong recordings.These are all outstanding recordings rendered by a choral master. Volume 1 took me the longest (I think three years) to locate and seems to be the most difficult to find even now.

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Volume 1

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Volume 2

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Volume 3
Chalkperson wrote:I also have this Melodiya disc dedicated to Sveshnikov's Centenary, it's very difficult to find though...

http://www.amazon.com/Concert-Dedicater ... 76&sr=1-10

Sveshnikov's Boys and Mens Chorus also appear on Rudolph Barshai's recording of Beethoven's Missa Solemnis...

http://www.amazon.com/Classical-Evoluti ... 349&sr=1-3
Lance G. Hill
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When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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Re: Alexander Sveshnikov, Russian choral conductor

Post by Chalkperson » Fri Jun 25, 2010 1:33 am

Lance wrote:Yes, both of these recordings you mention utilize the various Sveshnikov choruses, but not conducted by Sveshnikov. The Beethoven is conducted by Viktor Popov. I now have three 2-CD sets Melodiya/Max Classics label with the original tapes and masters used to produce the CDs. These are among the best transfers ever made and include now six (6) CDs [in 2-CD sets] of Sveshnikov's art- and folksong recordings.These are all outstanding recordings rendered by a choral master. Volume 1 took me the longest (I think three years) to locate and seems to be the most difficult to find even now.
I thought that as it was his Centenary record it was most unlikely that he was conducting it himself... :lol:

I only said the Chorus was on the Beethoven disc, ie those wonderful Russian Voices, and, no I don't have Vol.1...
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Re: Alexander Sveshnikov, Russian choral conductor

Post by Chalkperson » Fri Jun 25, 2010 1:33 am

Lance wrote:Yes, both of these recordings you mention utilize the various Sveshnikov choruses, but not conducted by Sveshnikov. The Beethoven is conducted by Viktor Popov. I now have three 2-CD sets Melodiya/Max Classics label with the original tapes and masters used to produce the CDs. These are among the best transfers ever made and include now six (6) CDs [in 2-CD sets] of Sveshnikov's art- and folksong recordings.These are all outstanding recordings rendered by a choral master. Volume 1 took me the longest (I think three years) to locate and seems to be the most difficult to find even now.
I thought that as it was his Centenary record it was most unlikely that he was conducting it himself... :lol:

I only said the Chorus was on the Beethoven disc, ie those wonderful Russian Voices, and, no I don't have Vol.1...
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Re: Alexander Sveshnikov, Russian choral conductor

Post by Lance » Fri Jun 25, 2010 2:10 am

Well, you never know! He could have lived to be 100 years old. I had an aunt that made it to 104. Fritz Wallenberg, conductor of the Binghamton Philharmonic, lived just slightly passed 100. Sveshnikov, if he drank enough Vodka, could have made it, too! ImageImageImage
Chalkperson wrote:{snipped} I thought that as it was his Centenary record it was most unlikely that he was conducting it himself... :lol: {snipped}
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Re: Alexander Sveshnikov, Russian choral conductor

Post by stefanher » Fri Jun 25, 2010 3:09 am

Ted Quanrud wrote:Hi Lance --

Don't forget Sveshnikov's recording of the Rachmaninov Vespers. Despite its age andd recording quality, it sweeps the competition aside.

Sveshnikov has been called the Russian Robert Shaw; calling Shaw the American Sveshnikov may be more appropriate


Hear Hear!!

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