Valentina Levko: Star of the Bolshoi

Valentina Levko: Star of the Bolshoi
Composer Alexander Borodin, Georg Frideric Handel, Giuseppe Verdi, Gioacchino Rossini, Johann Sebastian Bach, Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky, Michael Glinka, Nikolai Andreyevich Rimsky-Korsakov, Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Sergei Rachmaninoff
Artist Valentina Levko mezzo soprano
Format 11 CD
Cat. number 9406
EAN code 5029365940627
Release April 2013

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About this release

Valentina Levko was another in the glorious line of Russian 20th-century contraltos who in some ways defined the sound of Russian opera for ears, both Eastern and Western, which were often discovering the rich tradition of Russian opera for the first time through recordings. Levko's name, however, unlike compatriots such as Elena Obratzova, never travelled as far or as well. Committed to her contract at the Bolshoi, she spurned several opportunities to make a name for herself in the West, with the lucrative recording contracts that would surely have followed. And yet hers was, as this important set reveals, a voice and dramatic presence firmly in the mould of greats of the past such as Zara Dolukhanova.

The set is carefully curated by themes, thereby revealing Levko's remarkable versatility. Arias from Bolshoi classics by Glinka, Rimsky-Korsakov and Tchaikovsky sit alongside Western operas by Ponchielli, Verdi and others; her ability to scale her voice to an intimate environment results in warmly idiomatic recordings of art song by Schubert, Brahms, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov. The pleasure she took in the popular song of her own country also resulted in many recordings with the Ossipov Folk Orchestra, but her facility extended to folk songs of many languages, as the last CD reveals. Perhaps most remarkably of all, the first CD reveals a natural interpreter of Bach and Handel.

An extensive booklet note discusses her life and career; for anyone interested in Russian voices, this set will be essential.

Other information:
- A true discovery for many western ears: Valentina Levko, star contralto of the Bolshoi!
- This set features an unrivalled breadth of recordings: Levko in a wide variety of repertoire, ranging from moving Baroque arias by Bach and Handel, through the art songs of Schubert and Brahms, towards great opera scenes from Prince Igor, Ruslan & Ludmilla, Ivan Susanin, Queen of Spades, Rossini, Verdi, the songs of Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff, and a superb collection of Russian folk songs.
- “In a career of 50 years, I have rarely encountered such a voice, rounded, youthful, with an uncommon timbre and astonishing warmth” , thus said the legendary Sol Hurok, one of the most famous American Impresarios, who introduced Valentina Levko in the New York Met. Although she frequently toured the world, her real home was Russia, where she reigned for more than 40 years, and 25 years as the star contralto of the Bolshoi Theatre.

Track list

Disk 1

  1. Mattheus Passion, BWV 244: Erbarme dich
  2. Dido and Aeneas: Act 3: When I am laid in earth
  3. Pietà, Signore
  4. Bella rosa
  5. Vado ben spesso
  6. Rinaldo: Lascia ch’io pianga
  7. Dettingen Te Deum: Dignare
  8. Serse: Ombra mai fu
  9. Siroe: Degg’io morir, o stelle
  10. Mattheus Passion, BWV 244: Du lieber Heiland du…Buss und Reu
  11. Cantata No. 4 from Christmas Oratorio, BWV 246: Bereite dich Zion
  12. Mass in B Minor, BWV 232: Qui sedes
  13. Mass in B Minor, BWV 232: Agnus dei
  14. Catone in Utica: Confusa, smarrita
  15. Se tu m’ami

Disk 2

  1. Schwanengesang, D. 957 No. 5: Aufenthalt
  2. Die Forelle, D. 550
  3. Erlkönig, D. 328
  4. Gretchen am Spinnrade D118 (Goethe)
  5. Im Frühling D882 (Schultze)
  6. Ave Maria, D. 839 (Trans. Storck)
  7. Gestillte sehnsucht Op.91 No. 1 (Rückert)
  8. Geistliches Wiegenlied Op.91 No. 2 (Geibel)
  9. Elégie (Gallet)
  10. Si vous amez (Gille)
  11. Ouvre ton coeur a l’amour
  12. E se un giorno tornasse (Maeterlinck in Russian)
  13. Echo (in Russian)
  14. Tango (Ferraris/Pardo)
  15. Tonadillas al estilo antiguo (Periquet): No. 1 Oh, muerte cruel!
  16. Tonadillas al estilo antiguo (Periquet): No. 2 Ay, majo de mi vida, no, no, tu no has muerto
  17. Tonadillas al estilo antiguo (Periquet): No. 3 De aquel majo amante
  18. Siete canciones populares españolas (Sierra): No. 1 El paño moruno
  19. Siete canciones populares españolas (Sierra): No. 2 Seguidilla Murciana
  20. Siete canciones populares españolas (Sierra): No. 3 Asturiana
  21. Siete canciones populares españolas (Sierra): No. 4 Jota
  22. Siete canciones populares españolas (Sierra): No. 5 Nana
  23. Siete canciones populares españolas (Sierra): No. 6 Canción
  24. Siete canciones populares españolas (Sierra): No. 7 Polo

Disk 3

  1. Ah, quel giorno ognor rammento (Semiramide, Act 1)
  2. Voce di donna o di angelo (La Gioconda, Act 1)
  3. Stride la vampa (Il trovatore, Act 2)
  4. Quella fiamma che m’accende
  5. Ombra felice K255
  6. O Mensch, gib acht (Symphony No. 3 – Nietzsche, in Russian)
  7. Song of the Rose (in Russian)
  8. Shepherd Boy (in Russian)
  9. Plaisir d’amour (de Florian)
  10. Habanera (Carmen)
  11. Samson et Dalila: Printemps qui commence (Act 1)
  12. Amour! Viens aider ma presence (Act 2)
  13. Mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voix (Act 2)
  14. Amour! Viens aider ma presence
  15. Mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voix (in Russian)

Disk 4

  1. Vanya’s Aria (Ivan Susanin, Act 4)
  2. Ratmir’s Aria (Ruslan and Ludmila, Act 3)
  3. Romance of Ratmir (Ruslan and Ludmila, Act 5)
  4. Varangian Ballad (Rogneda, Act 4)
  5. O mysterious forces (Marfa’s Prophecy – Khovanshchina, Act 2)
  6. A girl went out walking in the fields and marshes (Marfa’s aria – Khovanshchina, Act 3)
  7. Third song of Lel (The Snow Maiden)
  8. The Tsar’s Bride: Lyubasha’s Song (Act 1)
  9. Scene of Lubasha and Gryaznoy (Act 2)
  10. Lyubasha’s Aria
  11. Countess’s Scene (The Queen of Spades, Act 2)
  12. Prince Igor, Act 2: The daylight dies (Konchakovna’s Cavatina)
  13. Prince Igor, Act 2: Is that you, my Vladimir? (Duet of Konchakovna and Vladimir)

Disk 5

  1. We sat together, Op. 73 No. 3 (Rathauz)
  2. The sun has faded, Op. 73 No. 4 (Rathauz)
  3. Night (The candle is flickering), Op. 73 No. 2 (Rathauz)
  4. He loved me so, Op. 28 No. 4 (Girarden, trans. Apukhtin)
  5. Amid the din of the ball, Op. 38 No. 3 (Tolstoy)
  6. A Gypsy’s song, Op. 60 No. 7 (Polonski)
  7. Does the day reign?, Op. 47 No. 6 (Apukhtin)
  8. No, only one…, Op. 6 No. 6 (Goethe, trans. Mey)
  9. The cornfields yellow, Op. 57 No. 2 (Tolstoy)
  10. Was I not a blade of grass?, Op. 47 No. 7 (Surikov)
  11. Not a word, Oh my friend, Op. 6 No. 2 (Gartman, trans. Plescheyev)
  12. If only I had known, Op. 47 No. 1 (Tolstoy)
  13. Serenade, Op. 63 No. 6 (Romanov)
  14. Reconciliation, Op. 25 No. 1 (Scherbina)

Disk 6

  1. She is as lovely as the noon, Op. 14 No. 9 (Minsky)
  2. The Isle, Op. 14 No. 2 (Balmont, after Shelley)
  3. Oh no, I beg you, forsake me not, Op. 4 No. 1 (Merezhkovsky)
  4. The Waterlily, Op. 8 No. 1 (Heine, trans. Plescheyev)
  5. Twilight, Op. 21 No. 3 (Guiot, trans. Tkhorzhevsky)
  6. The migrant wind, Op. 34 No. 4 (Balmont)
  7. Night is mournful, Op. 26 No. 12 (Bunin)
  8. The Ring, Op. 26 No. 14 (Koltsov)
  9. Brooding, Op. 8 No. 3 (Plescheyev, from Taras Shevchenko)
  10. Believe me not, friend, Op. 14 No. 7 (Tolstoy)
  11. Night (Rathauz)
  12. For long there has been little consolation in love, Op. 14 No. 3 (Fet)
  13. A Prayer, Op. 8 No. 6 (Heine, trans. Plescheyev)
  14. You took all I had away, Op. 26 No. 2 (Tyutchev)
  15. Oh, do not grieve, Op. 14 No. 8 (Apukhtin)
  16. Before the Icon, Op. 21 No. 10 (Golenischev-Kutuzov)
  17. In the silence of the secret night, Op. 4 No. 3 (Fet) Songs by Rachmaninov

Disk 7

  1. No, not you ardently I love (Lermontov)
  2. Elegy (Delvig)
  3. I shall tell you nothing (Fet)
  4. Morning’s fog (Turgenev)
  5. All is quiet (Tolstaya)
  6. Prayer (Lermontov)
  7. Step away
  8. The plane-trees are slumbering (Meisels)
  9. I remember the evening (Zhandr)
  10. Bright is the night (Prigozhy)
  11. No, he didn’t love me
  12. Not for nothing I was afraid meeting you
  13. Gate (Obukhov)
  14. Stars in the sky (Diterikhs)
  15. Why does the heart beat so loud?

Disk 8

  1. The Little Bell (F. Glinka)
  2. Embrace me, kiss me (Koltsov)
  3. I feel sorry for you
  4. Oh, do not kiss me
  5. Girl’s Sorrow (Koltsov)
  6. And this world has no eyes
  7. Do not stir up memories (Davidov)
  8. Do not scold me (Razorenov)
  9. The Old Husband (Gipsy song after Pushkin)
  10. Russian Carriage-and-Three (Viazemsky)
  11. Red Sarafan (Tsyganov)
  12. Song of Ilinichna (Music for a Tragedy by Nestor Kukolnik ‘Count Kholmski’)
  13. Oh, if I had known (Gypsy Song – Dmitriev)
  14. I loved him (Koltsov)
  15. Reminder
  16. I loved you (Pushkin)

Disk 9

  1. The Old Lime Tree arr. Sergei Pogrebov
  2. Matushka-matushka arr. Alexander Varlamov 1801–1848
  3. Why do you sit up until midnight?
  4. Why are you looking at the road? (Nekrasov) arr. Vera Gorodovskaya
  5. Lost among high wheat
  6. Bush of a guelder-rose at a valley
  7. Oh, you wide steppes arr. Vera Gorodovskaya 1919–1999
  8. Across blue skies the clouds drift arr. Sergei Rachmaninov 1873–1943
  9. Belilitzi, rumyanitzi arr. Vera Podolskaya
  10. A dark cherry shawl arr. Sergei Prokofiev 1891–1953
  11. Green Grove arr. Sergei Prokofiev
  12. My sweet dreams
  13. Don’t blame me
  14. Lost roads
  15. Remember as I a young girl was (Grebenka)
  16. Walled till dark
  17. Over the fields (Roslavlev)

Disk 10

  1. Incantation of Water and Fire (trans. Balmont) (Balmont settings, No. 1)
  2. Ivan the Terrible (Lugovskoy): Ocean – Sea
  3. Ivan the Terrible (Lugovskoy): Song about the Beaver
  4. Russian Song
  5. Serenade from Ruy Blas (Hugo, trans. Schepkina-Kupernik)
  6. Strana Ottsov (The Land of our Fathers) excerpts (Isaakyan): No. 1 Sufferings of love
  7. Strana Ottsov (The Land of our Fathers) excerpts (Isaakyan): No. 2 Be afraid of black eyes
  8. Strana Ottsov (The Land of our Fathers) excerpts (Isaakyan): No. 3 Exile
  9. Strana Ottsov (The Land of our Fathers) excerpts (Isaakyan): No. 4 A smoke of Fatherland
  10. Three Octaves (Gamzatov) dedicated to Valentina Levko
  11. In deep dark woods (transcr. Pushkin)
  12. The Motherland readied its son (Lisyansky)
  13. Ancient Russian Fortress (Lisyansky)
  14. The Years Fly (from The Volunteers) (Dolmatovsky)
  15. Song of Love (from A Simple Story) (Dorizo)
  16. Reminiscence (Fadeeva)
  17. Song of Words (R. Rozhdestvensky)
  18. Be the One (R. Rozhdestvensky)
  19. Vocalise
  20. Snowfall (Chebotariov)
  21. Song of a young mother
  22. May I tell you something (Plyatztovsky)
  23. Sleeping mountains (trans. Gaykovich)

Disk 11

  1. Malagueña (Spanish)
  2. The Hunter (Portuguese)
  3. Havana Song (in Russian) (Greg, trans. Gorchakova)
  4. Black fan (in Russian)
  5. La spagnola (in Italian)
  6. Cranes fly (in Russian)
  7. On Alpine slopes Austrian folk song (Austrian song in Russian)
  8. Tirol tango (Polish)
  9. Waters ripple and flow (Czech)
  10. Marosh (Hungarian song in Russian)
  11. Lorsque tout est fini (French)
  12. No, I regret nothing (Italian)
  13. Neapolitan tarantella (Italian)
  14. Il bacio (Italian)