LABELS: Boheme Music
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Pushkin Settings
PERFORMER: Irina Arkhipova (mezzo-soprano), Natalia Rassudova, Igor Guselnikov, Georgy Sviridov, Ivari Ilya, John Wustman (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CDBMR 903046 (distr. +420 31 153 6455, firstname.lastname@example.org) ADD Reissue (1976-83)
Issued last year to celebrate the poet’s bicentenary, but only just released outside Russia, this collection of Pushkin settings brings together 29 songs by 14 composers from Glinka (born 1804) to Vlasov (born 1911 and still alive). Only Tchaikovsky and Mussorgsky are missing from the panoply of great Russian songwriters. It is a magical recital, a combination of the familiar (Rimsky, Glière, Rachmaninoff, Borodin, Cui) and less so, bringing together not just five of Medtner’s too-rarely recorded Russian songs, but also songs by four composers of the Soviet era: Shaporin, Shebalin, Vlasov and Sviridov.
Arkhipova (b1925) was arguably the pre-eminent, and certainly the most imposing, Russian singer of the pre-Gergiev era: a mezzo with a power, intensity and range that strike awe in the listener. By the time these recordings were made, between 1976 and 1983, hers was no longer a seamlessly beautiful voice, but she communicates a profound understanding of these marvellous poems with such passion and soulfulness you cannot but succumb to her art. This is a disc to make you, like Chekhov’s Three Sisters, nostalgic for Moscow. It’s only a shame there are no texts in the booklet. Claire Wrathall