COMPOSERS: Modest Mussorgsky
ALBUM TITLE: Musorgsky
WORKS: Sunless; Songs and Dances of Death; Night; Darling Savishna; Where are you, little star?, etc
PERFORMER: Katherine Broderick (soprano), Sergey Rybin (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: Stone ST 8058
Musorgsky’s songs are often sung by immense Slavic voices, so it’s a pleasure to hear someone a bit different. Katherine Broderick, while an accomplished young Strauss and Wagner soprano, favours nuance and expression against raw dramatic power, enhanced by bright tone and diction clearer than many native singers. Sergey Rybin’s accompaniments, strikingly fluent and idiomatic, no doubt contribute to Broderick’s apparent ease in Russian.
In more personal songs, like Desire and Tell Me Why, her greater tenderness and intimacy are very welcome, while folksier melodies like Gathering Mushrooms and Where are you, little star? avoid insufferable coyness. The lyrical Hebrew Melody is particularly attractive. I had doubts about the two great song cycles, though Sunless’s alienation and loneliness come across as movingly as in more overtly tortured interpretations like Sergei Leiferkus’s. In Songs and Dances of Death, too, she captures the falsely seductive allure of ‘Lullaby’ and ‘Serenade’, but alongside, say, Galina Vishnevskaya, she isn’t boisterous enough dancing with Trepak’s drunken peasant. In ‘The Field Marshal’ one really want a larger, darker voice; Broderick sounds shrill towards the top, although she rises well to the ghastly summoning of the dead.
Michael Scott Rohan