Aida Garifullina performs works by Delibes, Gounod, Rachmaninov, Rimsky-Korsakov, Soloviev-Sedoy and Tchaikovsky

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Delibes,Gounod,Rachmaninov,Rimsky-Korsakov,Soloviev-Sedoy,Tchaikovsky
LABELS: Decca
ALBUM TITLE: Aida Garifullina
WORKS: Works by Delibes, Gounod, Rachmaninov, Rimsky-Korsakov, Soloviev-Sedoy and Tchaikovsky
PERFORMER: Aida Garifullina (soprano); ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester Wien/ Cornelius Meister
CATALOGUE NO: 478 8305

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Is it fatuous to say she’s as fair of face as she is of voice? I hope not: those Tatar cheekbones, like Nureyev’s, are going to be a trademark as Aida Garifullina dazzles in roles like Rimsky-Korsakov’s other-worldly Snow Maiden. Her Natasha in the Mariinsky’s latest production of Prokofiev’s War and Peace was as moving as Yelena Prokina’s and more intense by far than Anna Netrebko’s. True, she has limits, and I hope she won’t push the voice into unsuitable repertoire like Netrebko has. But this very fine showcase launch shows where she’s peerless: as a bright, light lyric soprano of impassioned musicality in the Tchaikovsky numbers and above all Rachmaninov’s Vocalise, matchlessly phrased.

She’s not a natural coloratura, as the booklet note acknowledges; Delibes’s Bell Song is transposed down, and she shuns the top D in the first Queen of Shemakhan aria from Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Golden Cockerel. His other orientalia are marvellous, though, and Paul Bateman’s outrageous arrangement of the Song of India is fine since it’s a borrowing from a tenor anyway; Cornelius Meister conducts with spirit throughout. I like the final gimmick, marrying Garifullina’s rendition of Midnight in Moscow to the legendary Osipov Balalaika Ensemble’s 1962 recording.

David Nice

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Listen to an excerpt from this recording here.