This is a collection of songs by Western Poets set by some 14 Russian composers
- I say 'some 14' because they are scattered through 26 tracks. There seems
little point in this as a lot of Russian songs of the late 19/ early 20 century
are melodic, emotional and a bit 'same-y'. You'd be hard put to it to guess
the composers. There are examples by Glinka, Borodin, Tchaikowsky &
Rachmaninov, people like Alexandrov, Cui, Dargomizhky & Bortnyansky and,
far the most interesting, five early songs by Medtner, these little known
probably because of the formidable piano accompaniments. Too long a list
to type out!
The singer has a big, dark, almost baritonal voice, one which doesn't always
change gear too easily, and he is no doubt at home in large opera houses.
The pianist is fluent, but pedals too much in a disconcerting, resonant recorded
ambience, Potton Hall, Suffolk. The recordings took place in the spring and
late summer of 1999. Sometimes I wondered whether resonance had been added,
but probably not so.
The packaging is bizarre, entitled Dream, featuring the artists fetchingly
dressed up as if on the ballet stage in tasteful soft-focus, all dreamed
up no doubt by the publicity people. To end positively, all texts supplied
with translations of the four languages in which Sergej Larin sings, track
numbers helpfully pointing you to the original German, French or Italian
of each poem. That mixture of languages is, perhaps, the main interest of
this selection, Volume 1 of a projected series. Hard to rate, but more for
those with a particular interest in that repertoire, I thought, since many
of the songs would not be readily available elsewhere.
Peter Grahame Woolf