Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky, Glinka, Dargomizhsky, Cui, Sheremetiev, Gurilyov & Khrennikov

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Cui,Dargomizhsky,Glinka,Gurilyov & Khrennikov,Mussorgsky,Sheremetiev,Tchaikovsky
LABELS: RCA Victor Red Seal
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Russian Songs
WORKS: Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky, Glinka, Dargomizhsky, Cui, Sheremetiev, Gurilyov & Khrennikov
PERFORMER: Nicolai Ghiaurov (bass)Pavlina Dokovska (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 09026 62501 2 DDD
Here is a splendidly enterprising selection of 20 Russian songs (Romances, as the disc has it, is a misleading translation of romansi). But check the menu! Item No. 10, a so-called ‘Spanish Song’ by Dargomizhsky, is reproduced in the booklet with the wrong words. No mistake arises, however, with three other numbers by that composer, in ironic or comic vein, delivered with the mastery of character and timing to be expected from such a veteran of opera as Ghiaurov.

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At 65, the occasional rasp in his voice is at odds with the lyrical impulse of Tchaikovsky’s ‘None but the lonely heart’ and ‘At a noisy ball’. But the dramatic narratives of Mussorgsky’s Songs and Dances of Death suit him admirably. Also on the disc are songs by Sheremetiev (1822-1906), Gurilyov (1803-58) and Khrennikov(b 1913) – often reviled as the upholder of musical Stalinism – who provides an irresistibly humorous drunkards’ song, fully relished in Ghiaurov’s lowest notes. Dokovska’s accompaniments are occasionally thumpy but usually good. Arthur Jacobs