Il’yich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Complete Songs - Volume 5 I will never name her [3:36]
6 French Songs, Op. 65 Serenade [2:06] Disillusionment [3:14] Serenade [3:23] Let
the winter… [2:58] Tears [3:00] Enchantress [1:28] Oh, if you could, Op. 38, No. 4 [3:00] No reply, no word, no greeting, Op. 28, No. 5 [1:28] New Greek song, Op. 16, No. 6 [1:43] My mischief, Op. 27, No. 6 [2:30] Love of a dead man, Op. 38, No. 5 [3:52] You were in my dream [2:32] Oh no, do not love me for my beauty [4:09]
Hamlet, Op. 67a (excerpts) Ophelia's 1st scene [2:53]
Ophelia's 2nd scene [1:56]
Grave-digger’s song [3:12] Hear at least once, Op. 16, No. 3 [2:42] I never spoke to her, Op.25, No. 5 [1:20] Before sleep, Op.27, No. 1 [2:01] Look: there is a silver cloud, Op. 27, No. 2 [4:39] Had my mother borne me, Op. 27, No. 5 [3:29] A string of corals, Op. 28, No. 2 [5:08] Don Juan's serenade, Op.38, No. 1 [3:05]
Ljuba Orfenova ( piano)
rec. 4-6 June 2006, Small Hall, Moscow Conservatory, Moscow.
Transliterated song texts available online NAXOS 8.570438 [69:24]
wrote more than a hundred songs – 103 to be exact – yet they
are nowhere near as popular as his ballets and orchestral
works. As usual Naxos hope to address this with their five-volume
series from the two Ljubas, Kazarnovskaya and Orfenova.
Volumes 2 and 3 have already been reviewed by Colin
Clarke and Terry
must confess that the very first song, ‘I will never name
her’, made the worst possible impression. The piano sounds
reasonably well recorded but if you’re allergic to vibrato
you may as well stop reading now. Frankly I couldn’t believe
my ears; Kazarnovskaya, whose biography lists plenty of accomplishments
and awards, has an uncontrollable wobble that is very, very
distressing to listen to. Not only that, she often scoops
at the notes as well.
if that weren’t off-putting enough there are several points
in this recording where it sounds as if the singer has temporarily
decamped to another room; just listen to 00:40 on track 2,
where the aural perspective suddenly changes This is very
noticeable, not a minor editing glitch that most listeners
would be happy to live with. And it happens again, this time
at 2:01 in ‘Had my mother borne me’ (track 22). Perhaps forgivable
on an old Soviet-era recording but not on a modern one made
just two years ago.
that’s a relatively minor issue compared with Kazarnovskaya’s
vocal difficulties. I can’t say whether this is typical – although Colin Clarke’s review hints
at some potential problems – but what I can say is sample any track here and you’ll realise the
seriousness of the problem. There is no warmth, no middle
register and at 00:29 in ‘Tears’ (track 6) you will hear
some of the ugliest singing imaginable.
of a dead man’ (track 12) Kazarnovskaya momentarily drops
to a huskier register before returning to her usual histrionic
style. On the stage this would be described – charitably – as ‘hamming
it’. And the vocal line is compromised at every turn by odd
phrasing and awkward gear changes. Strange for a singer schooled
in the bel canto style, but then it could just be vocal wear
1891 Tchaikovsky was pressed into providing incidental music
for a performance of Hamlet in St Petersburg and perhaps
his lack of enthusiasm shows in the quality of the piano
writing. But the music is the least of our worries, with
Ophelia’s two songs marred not just by excessive vibrato
but by squalling under pressure. ‘Before sleep’ (track 22)
may start more promisingly – it’s
certainly more muted – but there’s
a curious lower-register smokiness more suited to a cabaret
act than a concert platform. Bizarre.
just in case you’re tempted to think this cloud has a silver
lining just sample ‘Look: there is a silver cloud’ (track
21). It’s clear that that even at the bottom of her range
Kazarnovskaya is unable to shade and colour her voice at
all, surely a grievous omission for anyone attempting such
emotionally diverse repertoire.
the past I’ve grumbled about some Naxos releases but in the
main I have welcomed many of their more enterprising releases.
There have been recording issues as well but here the acoustic
is pleasing enough and Orfenova plays with character and
flair. No, it’s Kazarnovskaya’s voice that’s at issue here,
making this a dreadfully disappointing climax to an otherwise
Frustrating. One to avoid at all costs.
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