Nikitin sings “Im schönsten Wiesengrunde”


Victor Ivanovich Nikitin (Виктор Иванович Никитин) with the Alexandrov Ensemble, conducted by Boris Alexandrov, singing “Im schönsten Wiesengrunde” in the Gendarmenmarkt, Berlin, at the Peace Concert in August 1948.

In an interview at the end of his life, Boris Alexandrov described this concert as dominant in the history of the Alexandrov Ensemble (known as the Red Army Choir in the West). Most of the story of this concert is at Wikipedia here.

However Boris was reprimanded for permitting Nikitin to sing in German at this concert, so soon after the war. It has been said by Anatoly Kompaniets that Nikitin was in big trouble, and was shunned by the authorities, but those who knew him say that is not true. He cannot have been more than 30 years old at this 1948 concert, and his recording career ended in about 1952.

He had a naturally beautiful lyric tenor voice, and it is said that the Nazis stopped shooting to listen when Nikitin sang in the trenches during World War 2. Nikitin’s voice always sounds only partly trained, and by the time this recording was made, he had taken part in a long and gruelling tour, entertaining the troops in war-torn areas. He sounds courageous, but his voice is clearly tired. Probably World War 2 cut short his chance to enter Moscow Conservatory or Gnessin music college like the other Ensemble soloists. He may or may not have thought that he was risking his career by singing in German. He sounds moved by a compassion for his audience.

You can hear the huge audience joining in the chorus. He was very popular and did several encores of Kalinka; from that point he was the first to be named Mr Kalinka, and was the first to sing it in the grand manner which became a signature style of the Alexandrov Ensemble.

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