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CD: Crotchet

Songs by Rachmaninov, Brahms & Schubert
see end of review for track listing
Yoram Chaiter (bass), Irena Zelikson-Litchen (piano)
rec. The Classical Studio, Herzliya, June, October 2008 and February 2009
Original texts enclosed with English translations. The Russian texts are also transliterated.
ROMEO RECORDS 7277 [75:36]

Experience Classicsonline

Yoram Chaiter is a physician, cancer researcher and bass singer. He was born in Beregovo, Ukraine (former Soviet Union) in 1964 and immigrated to Israel in 1973. His medical CV is long and impressive, he has many publications to his credit and has taken part as lecturer at a great number of conferences. Parallel with these activities he has also pursued a career as singer, as concert singer, recitalist and opera singer and he has also made several recordings. Among other things he premiered a song-cycle by Israeli composer Erwin Junger in 1993.

His voice is more bass-baritone than true bass, but he has some black low notes at his disposal while at the same time his top is free and ringing. The tone is rather gritty in the middle register but he has a good legato and can fine down his rather voluminous instrument to chamber size without losing quality. His pianissimo singing is often exquisite. What is fully clear from the beginning of this taxing recital is that he knows what he is doing. He knows the songs, he knows what he wants to express through them. Everything seems integrated: no false emotions, no mere skimming the surface.

The group of Rachmaninov songs, especially, also shows what a brilliant pianist Irena Zelikson-Litchen is. There is clarity in her playing and she is flexible. As for Yoram Chaiter his dramatic intensity can be heard to good effect in He has taken everything from me (tr. 3), Don’t believe, my friend (tr. 7) and Yesterday we met (tr. 9), while his sensitivity and fine nuances reap laurels in Fragment from A. Musset (tr. 5). His plangent tone catches well the melancholy of many of these songs, though the grittiness robs some of them of the nobility that is inherent in the music.

Darkness and melancholy also reigns in several of the Brahms songs, and Chaiter has the measure of them also. He has the same dignity for Feldeinsamkeit that is so apparent in Hans Hotter’s recording from 1951 and also for Sapphische Ode, where again Hotter comes to mind. But he can also muster the lightness and inwardness for Wiegenlied, which is sung with aching beauty.

Also the six Schubert songs are basically dark and again he shows great sensitivity. Der Leiermann is a reading that goes straight to my shortlist for that song, but all the other are also well considered and concienciously interpreted.

The recording can’t be faulted and the booklet has short biographies on the composers and the artists.

The general impression of the well filled disc is of darkness and gloom - which is no criticism, only a factuality - and the best way of enjoying this disc is to savour a handful of songs at a time. The grittiness and some occasional wobbling also tends to jar on the ear after a while. Other singers may have more beautiful voices, but this is without doubt Lieder interpretation of the highest order.

Göran Forsling

Track listing
Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873- 1943)
1. The Dream (Son) [1:27]
2. How peaceful (Zdes’ khoroso) [1:59]
3. He has taken everything from me (Fs’o otn’al min’a) [0:48]
4. Cease thy singing, maiden fair… Ne poj, krasavitsa, pri mne …[4:05]
5. Fragment from A. Musset Otryvok iz A. Musset)[2:06]
6. Morning (Utro)[2:16]
7. Don’t believe, my friend (Ne ver’ mne drug, kogda v izbytke …)[1:48]
8. Yesterday we met (Vchera my fstretilis’)[2:55]
9. Everything is passing (Prokhodit vse)[1:50]
10. For long in love (Davno v ljubvi)[1:17]
11. In the mysterious silence of the night (V molchan’ji nichi tajnaj) [3:02]
12. Child, you are beautiful like a flower (Ditja! Kak cvetok ty prekrasna)[1:56]
13. She is as fair as day (Ona kak polden’ harasha)[2:27]
14. Oh no, I beg you, do not leave! (O, net, mal’u, nui uhadi!)[2:08]
Johannes BRAHMS (1833 - 1897)
15. Die Mainacht [3:01]
16. Wiegenlied [1:51
17. O wüßt ich doch den Weg zurück [3:38]
18. O kühler Wald [2:12]
19. Feldeinsamkeit [2:56]
20. Sapphische Ode [2:19]
21. Wie Melodien zieht es mir [2:14]
22. Verrat [4:34]
Franz SCHUBERT (1797 - 1828)
23. Der Leiermann [4:02]
24. Aufenthalt [3:55]
25. Der Doppelgänger [4:25]
26. Der Wanderer D.493 [5:15]
27. Der Tod und das Mädchen [2:39]
28. An die Musik [2:32]




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