Glire: How Dark Is the Night: Songs

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COMPOSERS: Glire
LABELS: Conifer
WORKS: How Dark Is the Night: Songs
PERFORMER: Elena Prokina (soprano)Semion Skigin (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 75605 51303 2
Reinhold Glière (1875-1956) may be best remembered for his large-scale works, but this invaluable recording – the first CD devoted to his songs – should help to focus attention on his talent as a vocal miniaturist. Though he lived until after Stalin’s death, his songs place him in the Tchaikovsky tradition: indeed, most were written in pre-Revolutionary days, but even the later ones adhere to the style of the Russian romance. All display a deep Russian melancholy, even those showing the influence of folk music (courtesy perhaps of Rimsky-Korsakov). Glière’s poets are mainly 19th-century figures, or at least traditionalists, but his songs are seldom conventional: the piano parts (excellently played here) are too full of interest for that.

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In Elena Prokina these songs find a fully sympathetic interpreter. The variety of her delivery shows how she is never complacent, that her lovely soprano, with its lustrous top and dusky lower register, is ideally suited to this music. She scales down her operatic voice for such intimate numbers as the ‘Cradle Song’ and the delicate ‘On the flowers teardrops tremble’, and is languid in the ‘Song of the east’; equally, she finds the full range of emotions called for in ‘If you love, then do it madly’, a typically short and striking song. John Allison