In The Still of Night

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Rimsky-Korsakov & Tchaikovsky; plus encores by Dvoπák & R Strauss
WORKS: Songs by Rimsky-Korsakov & Tchaikovsky; plus encores by Dvoπák & R Strauss
PERFORMER: Anna Netrebko (soprano), Daniel Barenboim (piano)


 Anna Netrebko has become such a star in international roles that it’s pleasant to find she hasn’t – unlike some other Russian singers – lost touch with her native repertoire;  and not just the well-known bits.

In the West Rimsky-Korsakov is generally associated with colourful orchestral showpieces like Sheherazade, and vocally, if at all, with opera. Yet his romances deserve to be better known; miniatures which concentrate his rich melodic
facility, they are much less conventional than the better-known Tchaikovsky songs in the second half of this live Salzburg recital.

Many of Rimsky’s songs reflect his fascination with the Orient, in languorously rippling melodies such as ‘Zuleika’s Song’ and ‘In the Realm of Wine and Roses’, after Hafiz. They’re mostly weighted towards the voice; luxury accompanist Daniel Barenboim makes more impression in the Tchaikovsky. 

Since I first saw Netrebko as Lyudmila at the Mariinsky her creamy, bright soprano has grown and hardened somewhat, and her whole-heartedly dramatic approach exposes moments of effortful tone and sour high notes, in ‘Captivated by the Rose’, for example. But she has this music in her bones, making it a delightful recital, with agreeable Dvorák and Strauss encores.


Hopefully the final release will have the texts my press pack lacks. Michael Scott Rohan