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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    



OLGA GURYAKOVA SINGS RUSSIAN AIRS AND ROMANCES
Pyotr Tchaikovsky
(1840-93): Aria of the Kuma from The Enchantress
Tatyana's Letter Scene from Eugene Onegin
Iolanta's Arioso from Iolanta
Tell me, what in the shade of the branches, Op. 57, No 1
If only I had known, Op. 47, No. 1
Does the day reign? Op. 47, No.6
Final Scene from Eugene Onegin*
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
(1844-1908):
Of what I dream in the quiet night, Op. 40, No 3
The clouds begin to scatter, Op. 42, No 3
Mikhail Glinka
(1805-57): Gorislava's Aria from Ruslan and Lyudmila
Sergei Prokofiev
(1891-1953): Natasha's Arioso from War and Peace
Sergei Rachmaninoff
(1873-1943): Twilight, Op. 21, No.3
How long my friend, Op. 4, No. 6
Lilacs, Op. 21, No.5
Spring Waters, Op. 14, No 11
Olga Guryakova (soprano)
* With Andrei Baturkin (baritone)
Moscow Chamber Orchestra conducted by Constantine Orbelian
Recorded in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, August 30 - September 5, 2000
DELOS DE 3273
[65.26]
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I have not heard Olga Guryakova before and I must confess that I approached this CD a little cautiously since I have an aversion to 'wobbly' Slavonic sopranos. I need not have worried. Within a few minutes it was clear that here is a voice to be reckoned with. This young Russian soprano, born in 1971, has already attracted a good deal of critical acclaim and it is not hard to understand why.

She has a big, dramatic voice but though she is not afraid to sing out at full power the sound is always controlled and in focus. She hits every note right in the centre and retains the pitch, no matter how forcefully she is singing. In other words she is completely free from the 'wobble' or spread which has put me off listening to several of her compatriots in the past (including one extremely distinguished singer whose name I won't mention.) Every note rings out truly and clearly.

The top of the voice is free and open. Lower down the register there is a marvellous warmth and richness to the tone. Diction is clear. In short, her voice is a magnificent instrument which she uses to wonderful effect. She also sings most intelligently, conveys texts well and is obviously 'inside' the various roles.

The two excerpts from Eugene Onegin are highlights of the recital. Miss Guryakova gives a compelling account of the famous Letter Scene, fully engaging our sympathies. She is no less intense and involving in the final scene from the opera where she is partnered by Andrei Baturkin as the eponymous hero. His singing is good but not on quite the same level as that of his partner. Next to her he sounds a little plain. I was similarly impressed by Guryakova's impassioned performance of the Prokofiev arioso.

The recital has been planned intelligently. It would have been very easy just to assemble a collection of operatic arias. However, welcome variety is provided by the inclusion of nine songs, all with orchestral accompaniment (the otherwise very good documentation does not reveal if the orchestrations are by the composers concerned). All the songs are enjoyable but the Rachmaninoff group strikes me as being particularly successful. Guryakova gives a rapt performance of 'Twilight' and is simply radiant in 'Spring Waters'.

Throughout the programme the Moscow Chamber Orchestra under Constantine Orbelian give excellent support which is by turns sensitive (especially in the songs) and dramatic. Full transliterated texts and translations are provided, the notes are good and the recorded sound is excellent.

This is one of the most exciting new voices I have heard in a long time. A most enjoyable disc, winningly performed. Recommended unreservedly.

John Quinn




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