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Pace mio Dio - Italian Arias
Dinara Alieva (soprano)
Czech National Symphony Orchestra/Marcello Rota
rec. No recording date given, CNSO Studio No 1, Prague, Czech Republic
DELOS DE3462 [62.11]

Russian Songs and Arias
Dinara Alieva (soprano)
New Russia State Symphony Orchestra/Dmitry Yablonsky
rec. 28 August-3 September 2011, Studio 5, Russian State TV & Radio Company ‘Kultura’, Moscow, Russia
NAXOS 8.572893 [60:04]

In just a few weeks two releases have arrived of aria collections from swiftly emerging Azerbaijani soprano Dinara Alieva; both are superbly performed. Championed by Montserrat CaballÚ as “a singer who possesses the gift of heaven” Alieva is a singer of exceptional talent. A promising future on the world stage is assured.

A graduate of the Baku Music Academy, Azerbaijan, Alieva joined the Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow as a soloist in 2010. She has appeared in a number of mainly Russian and European opera houses and concert halls in roles that have included: Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni), Violetta (La Traviata), Tatiana (Eugene Onegin), Giulietta (Les Contes d'Hoffmann), Mimi and Musetta (La Boheme), Li¨ (Turandot), Leonora (Il Trovatore), Michaela (Carmen), Nedda (Pagliacci) and Marfa (The Tsar’s Bride).

Her debut CD on American Delos samples Verdi, Puccini, Catalani, Cilea and Leoncavallo; a valuable collection of thirteen, mainly familiar, Romantic arias. This Italian repertoire especially suits Alieva who displays her creamy, dusky-hued, fluid, lyric tones to best advantage. How impressively she demonstrates her feeling for the words. Nevertheless I did soon find myself wanted additional tonal colour. The first two Verdi arias E strano!... Sempre libera degg'io and Addio del passato, both from Traviata, reveal an appealing, almost effortless coloratura. Puccini’s Vissi d'arte from Tosca and also Chi il bel sogno di Doretta from La Rondine are fine examples of Alieva’s ability to generate emotion including an enchanting tenderness. At the point of hearing O mio babbino caro from Gianni Schicchi I began to notice this singer's vibrato which is not unattractive and never intrudes. A fine example of comfortably achieving the high notes is to be found in Chi il bel sogno di Doretta from La Rondine. The splendidly sung Ebben? Ne andrˇ lontana from Catalani’s La Wally is perfect for demonstrating her vocal power. Other good examples of her strength of attack can be heard in the Verdi arias Tacea la notte placida from Trovatore and the title track Pace, pace mio dio from La forza del destino. Marcello Rota and the Czech National Symphony Orchestra contribute greatly with thoughtful and sensitive playing. The sound is warm, clear and well balanced. The booklet notes are an admirable example of best practice containing Italian text and English translations. There's also a most helpful explanation of each aria’s plot context. I have a minor grumble in that no recording date is provided.

Those requiring Russian repertoire will be especially attracted to Alieva’s Naxos release: a compilation of ten well-known and less familiar Russian Songs and Arias. This is well sung, however, I didn’t enjoy the same level of satisfaction as with her Delos collection. After a while the rather narrow palette of dark-tinged tone colour becomes wearing and under pressure something approaching shrillness begins to intrude. Nevertheless, I found particularly impressive Alieva’s fluid tone and overall vocal control in both ‘Lisa’s Aria’ from The Queen of Spades by Tchaikovsky and Ivan Sergeich from The Tsar's Bride from Rimsky-Korsakov. The high register presents no problem for this soprano and this is aptly displayed in the high tessitura of Uzh polnoch blizitsya from The Queen of Spades. She generates commanding emotional intensity in Kab´ znala ya and Ya li v pole da ne travushka bila? both fine arrangements for voice and orchestra. The famous ‘Letter Scene’ from Eugene Onegin is a striking example of strong, fluid singing in an opera to which Alieva seems eminently suited.

Credit is due to the New Russia State Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Dmitry Yablonsky for providing unfailing support. The sound is clear, cool and dry. A warmer setting would have assisted the forwardly positioned Alieva. We get neither texts nor translations in the booklet but these can be obtained via the link in the liner notes to the Naxos website.

Michael Cookson

Previous reviews: Robert J Farr (Italian arias) ~~ Gorńn Forsling (Russian songs and arias)

Track listings
Delos

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
1. La Traviata: Sempre libera [7.26]
2. La Traviata: Addio del passato [7.10]
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924)
3. Tosca: Vissi d'arte [3.25]
4. Gianni Schicchi: O mio babbino caro [2.30]
5. Madama Butterfly: Un bel di vedremo [4.46]
6. La Rondine: Chi il bel sogno di Doretta [2.56]
7. Turandot: Tu che di gel sei cinta [2.56]
Alfredo CATALANI (1854-1893)
8. La Wally: Ebben? Ne andro lontan [3.54]
Francesco CILEA (1866-1950)
9. Adriana Lecouvreur: Io son l'umile ancella [3.36]
Ruggero LEONCAVALLO (1858-1919)
10. I Pagliacci: Qual fiamma avea nel guardo! .... Hui! Stridono lassu [5.03]
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
11. Il Trovatore: Tacea la notte [5.47]
12. Il Trovatore: D'amor sull'ali rosee [6.08]
13. La forza del destino: Pace, pace mio Dio! [6.06]

Naxos
Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943)
1. 14 Songs, Op. 34, No. 14: Vocalise (version for voice and orchestra) [7.07]
Pyotr Il'yich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
2. The Queen of Spades: Otkuda eti slyozi, ‘Lisa's Aria’ [4:22]
Nikolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV (1844-1908)
3. The Tsar's Bride: V Novgorode [6.07]
4. The Tsar's Bride: Ivan Sergeich, khochesh’ v sad poydyom? (orchestrated Ivan Sergeyevich) [5.37]
Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943)
5. 6 Songs, Op. 4, No. 4: Ne poy, krasavitsa, pri mne (arranged Ruben Stepanyan for voice and orchestra) [4:24]
6. Francesca da Rimini: O, nye r´day, moy Paolo, nye nado…, ‘Francesca's Aria’ [2:45]
Pyotr Il'yich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
7. The Queen of Spades: Uzh polnoch blizitsya … Akh, istomilas' ya, ‘Lisa's Aria’ [4:54]
8. 7 Romances, Op. 47, No. 1: Kab´ znala ya, kab´ vedala (arranged Odysseus Dimitriadi for voice and orchestra) [5:53]
9. 7 Romances, Op. 47, No. 7: Ya li v pole da ne travushka bila?(version for voice and orchestra) [6:27]
10. Eugene Onegin: Puskay pogibnu ja, ‘Letter Scene’ [12:27]