Rachmaninoff: The Miserly Knight
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 arguably the finest of Rachmaninoff’s operas. If circumstances had been more favourable he would have composed far more for 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 very effectively 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.
“… the recording is remarkably accurate and richly detailed. … Abdrazakov is the blackest of dark-voiced Russian basses. Muraev and Bezzubenkov are not far behind. Even the two tenors, Didyk and Bronder, are darkish sounding. Noseda is Italian, but he has made quite a reputation conducting Russian music. … Here he draws the most beautiful sounds from the BBC Philharmonic – lush and broad – at an easy gait that supports the singers….” Charles H Parsons
American Record Guide - January / February 2010
“Rachmaninov decided in The Miserly Knight to set almost exactly word-for-word a prose poem-cum-play by Pushkin, one of his so-called ‘little tragedies’ , Its central panel is a long monologue for the Baron (the Miserly Knight of the title), … here sung with commanding presence and rich, malleable tone my 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.” Geoffrey Norris
Gramophone - December 2009
“The strongest of Rachmaninov’s three operas comes over with a sense of musical urgency and pure dramatic malevolence in this new recording, with the BBC Philharmonic exploring its wide yet consistently dark set of orchestral colours under the motivating baton of Gianandrea Noseda. All four characters are wonderfully presented here… An unforgiving and troubling piece, the opera registers potently here.” George Hall
Opera Now - November / December 2009
“The strengths of this carefully recorded, well-cast set are above all its non-Russian conductor, Gianandrea Noseda, masterly at pacing and responsive to orchestral colour, and its leading singer, Ildar Abdrazakov, certainly the finest bass voice to emerge from Russia in decades. This disc comes strongly recommended." Max Leppert
BBC Music Magazine - November 2009
FonoForum 12 / 09: Ildar Abdrasakow zeichnet eine packende
Charakterstudie, lässt die Boshaftigkeit und den
Größenwahn des Barons ebenso spürbar werden wie seine
Ängste und sein gelegentlich sich zu Wort meldendes
schlechtes Gewissen. Dies ist in jeder Hinsicht eine
Meisterleistung. Aus der etwas undankbaren Rolle des zu
kurz gekommenen Sohnes formt der Tenor Mischa Didyk einen
Menschen mit gutem Willen und schwachem Ego, der aber
durchaus seine - auch stimmlich! - starken Momente für
sich verbuchen kann. Gianandrea Noseda schließlich
unterstreicht am Pult einmal mehr seine Kompetenz in