Arias from Idomeneo, Don Giovanni, Benvenuto Cellini, Manon, Lucia di Lammermoor, La Sonnambula, Faust, Rusalka and La Bohème
Anna Netrebko, soprano; Vienna State Opera Chorus; Vienna Phiharmonic Orch/Gianandrea Noseda, cond.
DGG 000154736 TT: 62:59 (5 channel)

PROKOFIEV: Ivan the Terrible
St. Louis Symphony Chorus and Orch/Leonard Slatkin, cond.
MOBILE FIDELITY UDSACD 4003 TT: 65:30 (4 channel)

Young Russian soprano Anna Netrebko's debut solo recording recently was REVIEWED on this site. These are, indeed, extraordinary performances by one of the most exciting new singers in the operatic world, and on this CD we can hear her in well-balanced, totally natural surround sound. Beautiful in every way, with texts for all arias in English along with the original Italian, French and Czech. Highly recommended!

Mobile Fidelity's release is the second in their series of issues of original multi-channel recordings as originally recorded. Ivan the Terrible was composed by Prokofiev in 1942-1945 for a film by Sergei Eisenstein with whom he had collaborated a few years earlier on Alexander Nevsky. It tells the tragic story of Ivan Grozny ("Ivan the Terrible") who lived from 1529 to 1584. Abram Stasevich assembled the concert work heard on this recording, even using some music that wasn't in the film, and added a part for a narrator. The "oratorio" was premiered in Moscow March 23, 1961, with the American premiere given by the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra in March 1968 with Stasevich, who conducted for the film, on the podium. That orchestra presented it again in March 1979 with Leonard Slatkin conducting and it was at that time this recording was made. Slatkin revised the Stasevich score, added a Polonaise Prokofiev had written earlier, and decided to eliminate the narration,

The performance is outstanding, as is the sound. This is typical of the extraordinary engineering done by the team of Marc Aubort and Joanna Nickrenz. One hears the original four tracks (my CD player reads that there are 5 channels, but there are only four: left/right, front and rear). Clarity and definition are quite remarkable, with a fine spatial perspective. The list of performers on the jewel box doesn't include the Saint Louis Symphony Chorus which, of course, plays a major part in the music; nor is mention made of the two soloists, mezzo-soprano Claudine Carlson, and bass Samuel Timberlake. I look forward to future SACD issues in this series.

R.E.B. (December 2003) (NEXT SURROUND REVIEW)