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Russian Light
Olga Peretyatko (soprano)
Ural Philharmonic Orchestra/Dmitry Liss
rec. 2016, Great Concert Hall of Sverdlovsk State Philharmony, Ekaterinburg, Russia
Sung texts with English and German translations enclosed
SONY 88985352232 [54:52]

Born in Leningrad, as it was then, Saint Petersburg today, Olga Peretyatko sang in the children’s chorus at the Mariinsky Theatre. After winning second prize in the Operalia Competition in 2007, she has had a quick rise to international fame in a wide variety of roles in operas by Handel and Mozart to Wagner and Richard Strauss. On the present disc she offers an all-Russian programme with opera arias as well as songs. The repertoire spans from ‘the Father of Russian Classical Music’, as he has been called, Mikhail Glinka to fairly late Shostakovich – and a real rarity at that.

Glinka’s second opera, Ruslan and Lyudmila, was premiered in 1842 but it took several decades before it was established as an important work. Lyudmila’s cavatina is a great aria, and it is well suited to Olga Peretyatko’s voice – beautiful, vibrant with some steel in it. She has assured technique and a rich pallet of nuances.

Rimsky-Korsakov’s operas are still held in high esteem in Russia but they only seldom reach Western Europe, which is a pity since they have a lot to offer. I had the privilege to review a number of his operas more than ten years ago, and even though the singing wasn’t quite up to the mark all the time, one soon found that the musical standard was high. The handful arias and songs Ms Peretyatko presents here are well chosen as representative for Rimsky-Korsakov’s melodious and lavishly colourful music. Hymn to the Sun, may be the best known number from the exotic The Golden Cockerel – but maybe not as an aria. I first encountered it in Fritz Kreisler’s arrangement for violin and piano, a recording I still treasure. But Olga Peretyatko sings it beguilingly and makes me wish that she will be urged to record the opera complete. The Snow Maiden is another opera with a fairy-tale story and the title character here shares the limelight with a flute. Very beautiful is Volkhova’s lullaby from Sadko, also this a work with a fairy-tale theme. Ms Peretyatko sings it lovingly and very sensitively. The fourth opera is based on historical characters and the Tsar is no less than Ivan IV, known as Ivan the Terrible. It is a horrible story with intrigues and murder and Marfa, the Tsar’s chosen bride, goes mad in the last act and eventually dies. The aria performed here is another of the great Russian arias. The song about the nightingale is an early composition but very attractive.

You don’t hear Rachmaninoff’s songs with orchestral accompaniments very often. His piano accompaniments are very expressive and don’t need amendments but I have to say that the water in Spring Waters runs even wilder with orchestral backing than in the notoriously difficult piano original. The famous Vocalise is sung with exquisite legato and the two remaining songs are wonderfully sung with great restraint.

The remaining arias are connected with Olga Peretyatko’s career. She sang the part of the nightingale in a production in Toronto in 2009 and after that she sang it in Aix-en-Provence, in Lyon, and then in New York and then back to Europe and Amsterdam. While in Lyon with preparations for The Nightingale underway, she was invited to sing Gilda in Venice during the first rehearsal weeks in Lyon. The Lyon Opera was reluctant to release her but then the singer of a key role in the Shostakovich operetta in Lyon fell ill two days before the premiere, and Olga was asked to sing Lidochka. She had never seen or heard that music but agreed if she also could go to Venice for Rigoletto. She went to Lyon at once, got the score at the airport and worked hard to learn the part. Next morning at the rehearsal they found out that the dialogue was in French. They managed to sort this out and she could carry out the situation! No wonder then that she wanted to include two numbers from the operetta, which is about the resettlement of Muscovites to new areas of the capital. It was written in 1958, first performed the next year and there also exists an orchestral suite. The two arias here are entertaining and bring the recital to a charming end.

Highly attractive programme and classy singing!

Göran Forsling

Mikhail GLINKA (1804 – 1857)
Ruslan and Lyudmila:
1. Grustno mne, roditel’ dorogoy! (I am sad, dear father!) (Lyudmila’s Cavatina) [7:58]
Nikolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV (1844 – 1908)
The Golden Cockerel:
2. Otvet’ mne, zorkoye svetilo! (Answer me, far-sighted Sun!) (Hymn to the Sun) [5:21]
The Snow Maiden:
3. S podruzhkami po yagodu khodit’ (To go to pick berries in the woods) (Snow Maiden’s Aria) [3:43]
4. Son po berezhku khodil (It was all dreamy along the shore) (Volkhova’s Lullaby) [4:17]
The Tsar’s Bride:
5. Ivan Sergeich, khochesh’, v sad poydyom (Ivan Sergeyevich, would you like to go to the garden?) (Marfa’s Aria) [5:42]
6. Plenivshis’ rozoj, solovey (The Nightingale Enslaved by the Rose) Op. 2/2 [3:18]
Sergei RACHMANINOFF (1873 – 1943)
7. Eshchyo v polyakh beleyet sneg (Spring Waters) Op. 14/11 [2:17]
8. Vokaliz (Vocalise) Op. 34/14 [6:09]
9. Ne poy, krasavica (Don’t Sing, My Beauty) Op. 4/4 [4:40]
10. Zdes’ khorosho (It’s Nice Here) Op. 21/7 [2:33]
Igor STRAVINSKY (1882 – 1971)
The Nightingale:
11. Nightingale’s Akh! Serdce dobroye (Ah, the kind heart) (Nightingale’s Song) [3:49]
Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906 – 1975)
Moscow, Cheryomushki:
12. Ya v shkolu kogda-to khodila (I used to go to school) (Lidochka’s Song) [2:41]
13. Chasy na ploshchadi zazhglis’ (The clock on the square is lit up) (Lidochka’s Song) [2:18]



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