Glinka, Rimsky-Korsakov, Medtner, Rachmaninoff & Tchaikovsky

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Glinka,Medtner,Rachmaninoff & Tchaikovsky,Rimsky-Korsakov
LABELS: Campion
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Russian Recital
WORKS: Songs & arias
PERFORMER: Inessa Galante (soprano) Roger Vignoles (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: RRCD 1348

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CD is an unforgiving medium and can seem cold compared with a concert-hall atmosphere, especially that of the Wigmore Hall, where the audience was uncharacteristically noisy – not just with their applause – the night the Latvian soprano Inessa Galante made her sell-out debut there. Live, this was a wonderful evening.

She is a warm, charismatic, communicative singer. And her programme of Glinka, Rimsky-Korsakov, Medtner, Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky included, for my money, all the loveliest Russian romansi in the repertoire, as well as a couple of arias.

But the disc exposes some faltering edges to her usually rich, voluptuous, dark-bottomed voice, especially on Medtner’s opulent Pushkin setting ‘As soon as roses wither’ – though perhaps she was thrown by the watch alarm that went off. And she tends to overdo the vibrato. It is a shame, too, that only translated texts are included in the shoddy booklet, which leaves out 29 crucial lines from Tatyana’s ‘Letter Scene’, and includes almost the whole of Liza’s final scene from The Queen of Spades, rather than just the tragic aria – the disc’s highlight – Galante sings. For unless you know Glinka’s rapturous setting of the anonymous text ‘To the lyre’, you might not guess from her guttural, consonant-stressing pronunciation that she is singing in Italian, not Russian.

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Claire Wrathall