Firma Melodiya presents a recording of Anton Rubinstein’s opera The Demon. This wonderful work, which was inspired with the poem of the same name by Mikhail Lermontov and then inspired the likes of Mikhail Vrubel and Feodor Chaliapin, became a milestone in the history of music theatre. Unfortunately, the opera was almost forgotten by the public and musicians, and only a few of its fragments were widely known. It is only lately that Russian and foreign opera houses have been showing a new interest in it.
Rubinstein finished the opera in 1871. One of the greatest pianists of the 19th century nicknamed “tsar of the stage”, a composer and conductor, the founder of the first ever Russian conservatory in St Petersburg, he stood at the summit of glory and in full possession of his composing mastery.
The Demon combined traditions of Russian and West European music art and did justice to the colour of Caucasus. The opera was a great success with the public and accepted enthusiastically even by the composers of The Five, Rubinstein’s ideological 'opponents'. “A superb artist”, wrote Modest Mussorgsky in a letter to Vladimir Stasov.
Of all recorded versions of The Demon, we offer the one realized in 1974 by the soloists, choir and orchestra of the All-Union Radio lead by the outstanding maestro Boris Khaikin. Alexander Polyakov, a young bass-baritone and future soloist of the Bolshoi Theatre performed the main part. Nina Lebedeva, a Bolshoi soloist and remarkable performer of Russian and foreign operatic repertoire sang the part of Tamara. Alexei Usmanov (tenor), a soloist of the All-Union Radio, performed the part of Sinodal.