Kozlovsky and Britten

I have lots of odd CDs in my collection, but this 1960s Russian-language recording of Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings with Ivan Kozlovsky may just be one of the most unusual things I own. Gennady Rozhdestvensky is the conductor, Valery Polekh the horn soloist.

Kozlovsky’s voice is an acquired taste. If you’re accustomed to the sound of Peter Pears, Robert Tear, or Ian Bostridge you may very well agree with Michael Kennedy, who once called this performance “grotesque,” but I still think it’s worth a listen, if for no other reason than to hear a non-Anglophone take on the music.

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Prologue

Pastoral

Nocturne

Elegy

Dirge

Hymn

Sonnet

Epilogue

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Kozlovsky and Britten

  1. Joel Grill

    so is kozlovsky singing the poeme de l’amour et de la mer…great singer! thanks for the britten i think he also sang oberon in a midsummer night’s dream of britten would be nice to hear that performance best wishes

    • drammapermusica

      I’ve only ever heard the fragments of the Chausson that were included on the old 2-LP Melodiya set of Romances, but even that was pretty remarkable. (Note to self–do a Kozlovsky post soon and feature some of the more unusual items from his discography.)

      A Midsummer Night’s Dream received its Russian premiere at the Bolshoi on October 28, 1965, with Gennadi Rozhdestvensky conducting. Although Kozlovsky was still actively performing in concert settings at that point, he was no longer appearing on stage, so I doubt he would have been involved in that production. I wonder, too, whether Britten would have sanctioned a tenor Oberon, especially given the kind of unearthly effect he was going for in writing the part specifically for Alfred Deller.

  2. Elizabeth Lock

    This is the only recording of the Britten I have ever heard that didn’t seem to suffer from Pears-anxiety. Truly original, and an impressive sense of the very English eeriness of the Lyke Wake Dirge. Glad to see someone else knows it and it’s available (I have an old Soviet LP and googled it to see whether anyone else knew this performance).

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