Solomon Kromckenko

Discussion of contemporary singers: Jonas Kaufmann, Juan Diego Flórez, Anna Netrebko, etc.
Geoff
Posts: 153
Joined: 07 Jan 2016, 17:17

Solomon Kromckenko

Postby Geoff » 24 Jun 2016, 23:17

I know that my vocal preferences lean towards tenors - I plead 'guilty'. One of them is the Soviet tenor Solomon Kromchenko - said to be the favourite tenor of Stalin (there the blood curdles), but that is not the fault of Kromchenko. If it's true, then at least Old Joe knew his tenors. Ladies and Gents, please, - your opinions.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CboEvGs ... oIDVlNhnnp
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CboEvGs ... oIDVlNhnnp
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xzDGF5gNu4Y
Regards
Geoff.

TifosoBonisolli
Posts: 69
Joined: 05 Jan 2016, 23:47

Re: Solomon Kromckenko

Postby TifosoBonisolli » 27 Jun 2016, 09:39

For what it's worth, I, too, love Khromchenko. But I'm afraid we're just about the last two people who still have a look into this forum, at least occasionally. If we like to discuss our favorite singers, we might as well do so by email....

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Jimlejim
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Joined: 04 Jan 2016, 05:50

Re: Solomon Kromckenko

Postby Jimlejim » 29 Jun 2016, 18:09

I am still here too. :) We should breathe some life into it, instead of using email. Thanks for the post, Geoff! I did listen.
Quintessential Russian voice!
Tenor freak. :D

Vlamgat
Posts: 15
Joined: 28 Feb 2017, 17:02

Re: Solomon Kromckenko

Postby Vlamgat » 28 Feb 2017, 17:09

How ironic... I just registered on this forum and I see this name.
I actually knew him personally. Wonderful singer, excellent teacher, a humble and kindhearted man.
May his soul rest in heaven.

Jim
Posts: 63
Joined: 17 Mar 2016, 13:58

Re: Solomon Kromckenko

Postby Jim » 03 Mar 2017, 09:01

Good on you Geoff you have done it again. I see many of the usual suspects have responded to this. When something interesting comes up there is still a little life here.

I was particularly taken with the artfullness of the 'Song of the young Gipsy'. It is not the type of sound I am overly familiar with and cant think of any western singers with this type of sound. He has the very fast vibrato like Joseph Calleja. I am sure someone here will plug the gap in my education.

Like Geoff I am of course interested in tenors and have been since the nineteen fifties, however, I am just as interested in all the female and male voice types. I am now in my mid sixties and and a tenor with a fairly high voice. I am not a soloist but sing in a chamber choir. If you are a natural tenor voice, whether you are good bad or indifferent most choirs will be delighted to have you. Most tenors in choirs are high baritones. While I have been interested in singers and singing all my life I only started singing myself in my fifties.

The previous paragraph has, of course, nothing to do with the topic. I was, however, at a temporary loose end so decided to inflict it on you.

Jim

Jim
Posts: 63
Joined: 17 Mar 2016, 13:58

Re: Solomon Kromckenko

Postby Jim » 03 Mar 2017, 09:04

I hit the submit button too quickly.
Vlamgat is there anymore you could tell us about him?

Jim

Vlamgat
Posts: 15
Joined: 28 Feb 2017, 17:02

Re: Solomon Kromckenko

Postby Vlamgat » 03 Mar 2017, 11:21

Yes, I can add a few interesting details.

First of all he came from Ukraine. And back then most jews still had Jewish family names. He didn't. His family name sounded like an Ukranian one. When he arrived at the Bolshoi he was hinted that he should consider changing his first name, which was Jewish. They said: "your family name sounds great, but the first name... you know... perhaps you should consider....". He immediately told them "I will never change my first name". And back in those times you had to have a lot of guts to give such an answer. We all know the story of the famous basso Ivan "Petrov", etc'.

Another interesting detail is that he had a wonderful close friendship with Ivan Kozlovsky, that even dedicated a chapter of his memoirs to Khromchenko. But Khromchenko had tensions and bad vibes with Sergey Lemeshev, who had some antisemitic inclinations. In fact, Khromchenko was the closest friend of Kozlovsky among all the singers of the Bolshoi. Ivan Kozlovsky had a character which was somewhat unlike other singers of the Soviet Era - he looked and spoke as if he was a pre-revolution singer, like a member of an aristocracy, he was very a very refined gentleman. He was very sensitive and fragile. He had periods when he would have some kind of a crisis and would retreat to his apartment, asking his family to say he is very sick and isn't able to see anyone, no matter who called or came. There was only one exemption - Solomon Khromchenko. He felt he could confide only in him and no one could understand him better, no one was a closer friend.

I am not sure we can definitely say he was Stalin's favorite tenor. We do not have enough evidence to support this claim. But it is indeed a fact he was invited to the big historic celebration of the Victory in WW-II in Kremlin, which was open only to the elite of the elite, all handpicked. At some point when they sat at the big table Stalin asked Khromchenko to sing. He stood up and started singing. According to his own words when he sang for a few minutes Stalin looked like he wasn't very happy and everyhone else were sitting silent. Khromchenko felt a chill down his spine. But at some point Stalin suddenly smiled and started clapping his hands. Then everyone joined the ovation. Khromchenko felt a great relief, to put it mildly.

There were some singers which he kind of paired with in many recordings, most notably Petr Kirichek and Victor Selivanov. When he was giving concerts his constant accompanist was A.Zybcev, who was an interesting figure as well. In the beginning of his career he also sang with the very impressive baritone Konstantin Laptev. They would record traditional Ukranian folk songs or Ukranian romances. These recordings became classic. Many Ukranian patriots and even hardcore nationalists who had no love lost between them and both Jews and Russians had a joke: "One is Jewish, the other one is Russian, but their soul is Ukranian".

In the beggining of the 90ies he went to Israel and lived with his family member, she was originally from USA, she didn't even know Russian. I am not sure why he did it, because he had everything he could of wanted in Russia. Anyhow, he was given the title of professor in Jerusalem Academy and he taught there for a couple of years. When he retired young vocalists came to visit him at his home. They would come from all around the World - USA, Canada, Europe just to have one lesson with him and just to see him. Many of them wanted to have a video of their meeting with Khromchenko, but every time someone would start to record, he would say: "stop it, don't focus on me, I am not that important, no reason to record anything".

Khromchenko's granddaughter Nadia Sikorsky is actually doing a great work to preserve her grandad's heritage. It is with her help "The Opera Quarterly" printed two of his monographs, which she translated and wrote an introduction to. One of his two sons was working (perhaps still does) on the Central Radio in Moscow and helped with issuing two CDs with his dad's recordings in 2009. Both disks include introduction in English.

Jim
Posts: 63
Joined: 17 Mar 2016, 13:58

Re: Solomon Kromckenko

Postby Jim » 08 Mar 2017, 08:15

Thank you very much Vlamgat for your very informative summary. Some years ago I was collecting some Soviet singers recordings and compiling them for my own use and the most difficult part of this was getting any biographical details. I don't know how easy this would be now without speaking Russian but it is important that such information is available.
Jim

Vlamgat
Posts: 15
Joined: 28 Feb 2017, 17:02

Re: Solomon Kromckenko

Postby Vlamgat » 08 Mar 2017, 09:47

Jim,

For many years I am dealing with searching for both recordings, and information about Soviet singers. Of course, I speak Russian.
I have a big collection of recordings and large volume of information about little known Soviet vocalists. But no one seems to be interested in it.

TifosoBonisolli
Posts: 69
Joined: 05 Jan 2016, 23:47

Re: Solomon Kromckenko

Postby TifosoBonisolli » 08 Mar 2017, 10:45

Vlamgat wrote:
08 Mar 2017, 09:47
But no one seems to be interested in it.
Oh well, I certainly am. Other than thanking you for your interesting account on Khromchenko, here is a really tough question about rare & unknown Soviet singers (would perhaps deserve a separate thread, but since I have you here, Vlamgat, here we go): who the hell is "A. Tolstoukhov"? There is a video of him on Youtube, with Elena Obraztsova from the Bolshoi, so you wouldn't assume that he was a totally unknown singer from the deep provinces, and yet no other trace of him can be found online (at least not for non-Russian speakers, who do know how to do a Google search in Cyrillic letters, however). People on Youtube have speculated that it's "the voice of Atlantov", obviously because Atlantov is the only Soviet tenor they know, but the voice has little in common with Atlantov:


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