Wiener Staatsoper, 1989
Vladimir Atlantov, Nicolai Ghiaurov, Yuri Marusin
Chor und Orchester der Wiener Staatsoper, Slovak Philharmonic Choir, Wiener Sängerknabe
Arguably Modest Mussorgsky’s greatest work, Khovanshchina was incomplete at the time of his death and so this glorious production, from the Vienna State Opera, employs Shostakovich’s scoring with the addition of the final chorus composed by Stravinsky in 1913. It is a work of immense power and humanity, set at the time when Peter the Great assumed power in Russia, a turning point in Russia’s history when old forces came into conflict with new. Political intrigue, religious persecution, the tragedy of a nation, all form a backdrop against which individual dramas are acted out. The great Bulgarian bass, Nicolai Ghiaurov sings Prince Ivan Khovansky, the leader of the revolutionary Streltsys and Paata Burchuladze sings Dositheus, the leader of the Old Believers. Fellow Russians, including Ludmila Semtschuk as Marfa and Vladimir Atlantov as Khovansky’s son, complete this formidable cast. This live recording of Alfred Kirchner’s production of Khovanshchina is conducted by Claudio Abbado. Triumphantly hailed as ”one of the great performances of our day, an unforgettable display of skill and sympathy combined”, by the Financial Times, it is a recording to treasure.