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Cat. No. CHAN 3042(2) Price: £18 No. of discs: 2
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CHAN 3042 - Tchaikovsky: Eugene Onegin
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Available From: 12 March 2001
It was the singer Elizaveta Lavronskaya who suggested to Tchaikovsky at a party that he should consider Pushkin’s ‘novel in verse’ as the basis for an opera. Tchaikovsky’s initial reaction was not favourable, and he was tempted to reject the idea of Eugene Onegin out of hand and concentrate on two alternative and more promising suggestions, Shakespeare’s Othello and De Vigny’s Cinq-mars. Surely Pushkin’s work was far too subtle and much too highly regarded in literary circles for him to dare subject it to an operatic treatment, with all the adherence to artificial convention which that would involve? Moreover, at first sight is did not appear to contain anything like enough action to sustain a full-length stage work, for the basic story around which Pushkin had woven his elegant verse was extremely slight.

However, over the course of a few days the composer was quick to change his mind and recognise that ultimately the poem’s dramatic defects could be overcome by the ‘richness of its poetry’ and its ‘humanity and simplicity’. Above all, he was confident that he could produce an operatic version of Eugene Onegin which would genuinely complement the work on which is was based, rather than destroy its essential character and thus attract the opprobrium of Pushkin’s many admirers

Though he was not entirely successful in this regard, it is generally acknowledged today that with Eugene Onegin Tchaikovsky produced both his own operatic masterpiece as well as one of the most enduring contributions to the nineteenth-century Russian repertoire.
Reviews

This very fine Wagner recording returns to the catalogue – a highly persuasive account in its considered approach. The singing, in an effective English translation, is excellent.’
Gramophone on CHAN 3038(4) (The Valkyrie)

‘Chandos’ outsanding sound allows listeners to hear every note of this recording… Anyone who wants a Rigoletto in English will be happy with this worthy effort.’
American Record Guide on CHAN 3030(2) (Rigoletto)

‘The recording is sung in English, which is preferable to the Russian-on-autopilot approach that has marred many versions of the work’.
The Guardian

 

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