> Daniil Shtoda: Tchaikovsky, Balakirev, Rimsky-Korsakov etc... [CC]: Classical CD Reviews- Nov 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Piotr Il'yich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Serenade, Op.63 No. 6. The Nightingale, Op.60 No. 4. At the Ball, Op.38 No. 3. Again, as before, alone, Op.73 No. 6. Night, Op.73 No. 2. I should like in a single word. It was in the early spring, Op.38 No. 2. Why? Op.6 No. 5, Does the day reign? Op.47 No. 6.
Mily BALAKIREV (1837-1910)

Embrace me and Kiss me. Spanish Song
Nicolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV (1844-1908)

The Octave, Op.45 No. 3. The clouds begin to scatter, Op.42 No. 3. The rose and the nightingale, Op.2 No. 2. Of what in the silence of the night, Op.40 No. 3. The Nymph, Op.56 No. 1
César CUI (1835-1918)

The burnt letter, Op. 33 No. 4. A statue in Tsarskoe, Op.57 No. 17. I loved you, Op.33 No. 3.
Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943)

Do you remember the evening?. Lilacs, Op. 21 No. 5. They answered, Op.21 No. 4. At my window, Op. 26 No. 10. Oh do not sing to me, Op.4 No. 4. Fragment from A. de Musset, Op.21 No. 6.
Daniil Shtoda (tenor); Larissa Gergieva (piano).
Recorded in Potton Hall, Suffolk, in April 2000. [DDD]
EMI CLASSICS DEBUT CDZ 5 74232 2 [64.29]


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Collections of Russian art song can be touching and sometimes inspirational experiences: try Hyperion's two discs of 'Russian Images' on CDA67105 and CDA67205 for examples of how successful this idea can be.

First issued in 2000 (see Christopher Howell's review), Daniil Shtoda's appearance on EMI's 'Debut' series gave us a chance to hear in recital an up-and-coming young singer from the Kirov. Certainly, from the quote on the back cover of the reissue, the BBC Music Magazine certainly liked it. I, however, find myself rather less inspired by the experience. True, there are moments of great beauty on this CD, matched equally by uncomfortable ones. Indeed, much of the disc confirms the impression Shtoda gave at the Barbican in a performance of Rachmaninov's 'The Bells' under Svetlanov (see my review on our 'Seen and Heard' section: ).

The largest group of songs is the selection of nine by Tchaikovsky (constituting 25'04 of the total playing time). Placing the Serenade, Op. 63 No. 6, first was surely a miscalculation: Gergieva's accompaniment can only be described as bumpy, while Shtoda attempts to be lyrical over it. In the second song, 'The Nightingale', Op. 60 No. 4, there are more hints at Gergieva's unsubtlety and the first hints of strain from the tenor (a trait to recur periodically throughout the disc). Strangely, moments of fluency (the piano accompaniments to Op. 26 No. 1 and Op. 38 No. 2, for example, the latter a completely natural outpouring from both parties) and the capturing of the mood of a song (eg the sad melancholy of Op. 73 No. 6) vie with vocal strain and a total miscalculation of the final song of this Tchaikovsky set, 'Whether day reigns', Op. 47 No. 6, where Gergieva's stodgy piano postlude completely negates Shtoda's careful build-up in the earlier part of the song.

If the two Balakirev songs suffer from similar faults, things pick up with the Rimsky-Korsakov set, in particular 'The fleeting bank of cloud is dispersing', Op. 42 No. 3. Here Gergieva shows what she can do: the sound is luminous, and it seems to encourage Shtoda's lyrical mode. The evocative 'Rose and Nightingale' which follows, with its oriental overtones, contains an effective wordless section towards the end. The harmonies of 'The Nymph', Op. 56 No. 1, are particularly beautiful.

The highlight of the Cui set is his Op. 57 No. 17 ('The statue in Tsarskoye Selo'). Here the piano part is painted in almost Impressionist colours. Saving the best of the performances until last, the group of six Rachmaninov songs is marked by its expressive beauty (it is probably no coincidence that the last track, 'Loneliness', Op. 21 No. 6, is one of the best performances on the disc).

A variable (albeit cheap) recital, then. Shtoda is certainly worth watching, even if he did not quite deliver the goods on this occasion.

Colin Clarke

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