PETER TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Complete Songs, Volume Two. Children's Songs, Op. 54.
Six Romances, Op. 73.
Lyuba Kazarnovskaya (soprano);
Ljuba Orfenova (piano).
Naxos 8.554358 [DDD]
Volume One of this series provided a bitty selection of songs - three
unpublished, followed by extracts from Opp. 6, 25, 27, 28, 47 and 60 (Naxos
8.554357). Perhaps more sensibly, Volume Two presents two complete sets.
As before, transliterated texts and translations are usefully included.
Tchaikovsky's songs deserve more credit than they sometimes get, and this
series is most definitely a step in the right direction. The sixteen Children's
Songs, Op. 84 date from 1881 and are mainly to texts by Alexey Pleshcheyev.
None of this set attempts to plumb the despairing depths, and in general
Kazarnovskaya's responses are aptly light, Orfenova's accompaniments
appropriately tripping and engaging. Occasionally the singer over-eggs her
pudding - both the third song, 'Spring', and the fifth, 'A Legend', are far
too hevy and vibrato-laden, for instance, but if you wish to sample the
highlights, try the well-characterised 'The Cuckoo' (track 8) or the enganing
intimacy of No. 14, 'Autumn'.
The Romances, Op. 73, on the other hand, bring out the best from Kazarnovskaya.
Tchaikovsky wrote this set in 1893, over a decade later than the Children's
Songs. From the very first phrase in 'We sat together', there is a pathetic
intimacy that remains in the mind. This is followed by the compulsively intense
desolation of the second song, 'Night', and Kazarnovskaya effectively shades
the fourth, 'One Gloomy Day' (not 'On Gloomy Day', as the back CD cover
proclaims!). The pianist, Lyuba Orfenova, seems similarly inspired and plays
excellently, evoking real depth of tone when required. The fifth and final
song, 'Once more, as before, I am alone', is truly touching. Well worth acquiring
for the Op. 73 set, then, even if this only makes up the final sixteen minutes
of the disc. Throughout I would have welcomed more body to the recorded sound.