> Emils Darzins [RB]: Classical CD Reviews- Oct 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Emils DARZINS (1875-1910)
Emils Darzins 120:-

To Homeland Dear
In Distant Reveries
Broken Pines
Forever Blue
Moonbeams shooting softly
Olden Times
The Song of the Mermaids
Come with me
The Children of Zion
If I were to go to Bethehem
Tell me the hour the moment
Close your eyes and smile
My Happiness
A Spanish Romance
Leaving You
You are blushing
But Once
You pick roses yet
As if stealthily

The Melancholy Waltz.
Rec: No details. issued 1995. Tracks sound as if they date from 1960s to 1980s. Probably ADD.



Think of Darzins as a Baltic Roger Quilter but with a stronger lyric talent. This disc celebrates his 125th anniversary with a selection of songs, choral items and one orchestral piece.

We start with the solid, vibrant and blazing unison singing of the male voice choir in To Homeland Dear. It is rather like the paean in Finlandia. In Distant Reveries the deep basses singing ppp at the end of the piece act as a delightful counterpoint to women's voices. The lulling bass growl at the end of Moonbeams shooting softly contrasts with the blazing intensity of the mixed voices in Broken Pines. The radiance of the women's voices is remarkable. Is it a quality peculiar to the Nordic and Baltic countries? The songs for solo voice and piano touch the worlds of Onegin, the salon. Delius (listen to L. Daine in track 16, Leaving You) and Russian romance.

The only orchestral track is the last one: the affecting Melancholy Waltz, played with great tenderness by the Latvian State SO conducted by L. Vigners. This can crudely be compared with Sibelius's Valse Triste but with a lighter heart. It is, on occasions, very close to Tchaikovsky with tints from the woodwind writing in Sibelius's King Christian II. I was also reminded of the guileless Lesghinka from Khachaturyan's Gayane. The beautifully calculated fade into silence is done with wonderful dignity. It is only ignorance that prevents this piece from joining the orchestral pops repertoire of the Hallé or Boston.

The disc comprises eleven choral tracks, ten solo songs with piano and a single six and a half minute orchestral piece. Apart from Resignation (tr 17, 4.50) and the Waltz the longest of the 22 tracks is 3.39 and the shortest 1.20.

The words are, of course, sung in Latvian. None of them are printed in the booklet; not even in the original Latvian. The brief notes are in Latvian and English.

These recordings are not in the first flush of youth, being taken from the sound archives of Latvia Radio and Riga Recording Studio. That however need not worry you if you are ready for a surprising anthology of laid-back Baltic romance - elusively sad; subtly joyous. This would make an ideal and unusual Christmas album.

Rob Barnett

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