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Pyotr Il'yich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
see end of review for track listing
Natalia Petrozhitskaya (soprano) (1-9); Dmitry Zuev (baritone) (9-17); Antonina Kadobnova (piano)
rec. 2014, Moscow. DDD
MELODIYA MELCD1002278 [60:42]

I was looking forward to listening to this recital from two rising star singers form the Moscow Conservatory so was disappointed when I saw that the booklet contained no translation of the transliterated Russian texts. I became positively dismayed and irritated when I sought in vain for a download; it appears that Melodiya has decided to market this to an international audience without making any provision for texts and translations. I scoured my shelves and the Naxos website to find texts for a handful of the better known songs. Sadly, by and large, the non-Russian-speaking listener is left high and dry without any means of fully appreciating what is being sung beyond the titles and anything to be picked up from the two singers' admirably clear diction.
How, then, is a, English-speaking reviewer properly to appreciate this hour-long compilation of mostly less well known songs by Tchaikovsky? I can make some generalisations: both singers have clean, clear, youthful voices of no great or special distinction but which fall pleasantly on the ear. Both have no trouble encompassing the mostly gloomy and passionate emotional scope of these songs; I do not in general find Tchaikovsky to be at his most inspired as a song-writer. However several of the songs here, especially "Don Juan's Serenade" and "Amid the Din of the Ball", each setting poems by Tolstoy, the latter with a typically long melodic line, might be familiar to the general listener from previous recitals by more established singers such as Ghiaurov and Nesterenko. Tolstoy's words provide the lyrics for five songs here and seem to bring out the best in Tchaikovsky in this genre.
The programme begins with a lovely melody for the soprano in "I'll Tell You Nothing", sensitively echoed by the excellent pianist. At the centre of the recital is the duet "Tears", Petrozhitskaya sings the first nine songs and Zuev the remaining eight after the duet. Zuev is suitably dashing as Don Juan and Petrozhitskaya displays an impressive range and dramatic intensity in songs such as "To Forget So Soon" and "If Only I Had Known"; her songs are primarily melancholy and require the singer to inhabit a high tessitura, which she does successfully without any of the screech or wobble which has in the past sometimes marred Slavic singers' vocal style.
This recital was presumably recorded in the Moscow Conservatory but no date or location information is provided beyond the year of recording - this year, in fact. This could have been a highly desirable recital but without texts it remains frustrating.

Ralph Moore

Track listing

1. I'll Tell You Nothing, Op. 60, No. 2 [2:48]
2. Wait!, Op. 16, No. 2 [3:45]
3. Do Not Believe My Friend, Op. 6, No. 1 [:03]
4. Cradle Song, Op. 16, No. 1 [4:09]
5. To Forget So Soon, (1870) [2:55]
6. Was I Not a Little Blade of Grass in the Meadow?, Op. 47, No. 2 [6:26]
7. Softly the Spirit Flew Up to Heaven, Op. 47, No. 2 [2:54]
8. If Only I Had Known, Op. 47, No. 1 [4:55]
9. Tears, Op. 46, No. 3 [4:07]
10. My Genius, My Angel, My Friend, (1855-59) [1:54]
11. Why?, Op. 6, No. 5 [3:08]
12. Don Juan's Serenade, Op. 38, No. 1 [2:39]
13. Amid the Din of the Ball, Op. 38, No. 3 [2:12]
14. Exploit, Op. 60, No. 11 [4:19]
15. The Love of a Dead Man, Op. 38, No. 5 [4:34]
16. Serenade: Oh, Child! Beneath Your Window, Op. 63, No. 6 [3:23]
17. Again, As Before, Alone, Op. 73, No. 6 [2:22]
Editor's Note: After quite a bit of delving I was able to find texts of all these songs - some of them under titles varying from Melodiya's translations - at Brilliant Classics.