Orchestral Songs: Lyric Songs, Op. 5; Songs, Op. 67 etc
Roumiana Valcheva-Evrova, Maria Ventsislavova, Evelina Stoitseva (soprano), Pavel Gerdjikov (bass); Bulgarian National Radio Symphony/Alexander Vladigerov
Capriccio C8070 85:31 mins (2 discs)
Regarded in Bulgaria as one of the nation’s most important composers, Pancho Vladigerov (1899-1978) remains a footnote on the international classical music scene. Though his harmonically ripe style may have been partly inspired by Bulgarian folk music, his music recalls such Russians as Scriabin and Rachmaninov, with a touch of piquancy borrowed from Ravel. It is no surprise to read in the booklet note that Khachaturian, who also derived his style from those composers, was an admirer.
Released as part of Capriccio’s on-going Vladigerov series, this is a repackaging of 1970s Bulgarian recordings, all conducted by the composer’s son Alexander. The closely miked soloists – some of them clearly past their prime – and mostly garish sound are reminiscent of contemporary Melodiya recordings. Most of the songs here are folksongs in lurid arrangements which, even when celebrating young love, are noisily bombastic and ‘busy’ à la Respighi without any of that Italian’s taste and restraint. Pavel Gerdjikov, though one of the set’s decent singers, doesn’t quite ‘sell’ the arrangements for bass voice. Far more attractive are the Lyric Songs, Op. 5, composed in 1917 in apparent retreat from war’s clamour, and the Four Songs, Op. 67 (sung by the set’s other decent soloist, soprano Maria Ventsislavova), composed in 1974 yet sounding – reminiscent as they are of early Berg, Szymanowski and sometimes even Strauss – as if they could be contemporary with the earlier set.