<< -- 3 -- David Wilkins TENDER LONGING
There is, though, a real gem here. In The Rose and the Nightingale,
singer and pianist relish the orientalisms of the music
[listen -- track 14, 0:00-1:10] and it must be up to
the individual listener whether they find the conclusion haunting or just something
of a musical cliché. I loved it (though wondered about the lower end of
Shtoda's range) [listen -- track 14, 2:09-3:05].
The songs of Cesar Cui are better when avoiding the hothouse declamatory style
of The Burnt Letter and settling for the lovely, simple arabesques of
The Statue in Tsarkoye Selo. You would, I think, be happy to hear at least
two of the three offerings at repeated listening.
When it comes to the final Rachmaninov set you know, immediately, that you are
in the hands of a near-unrivalled gift for melody coupled with an unquestionable
aptness of piano writing. Lilacs presents Shtoda with the challenge of
communication as well as technique in this immensely familiar, exposed (and
usually soprano-sung) Beketova poem-setting. I think he's wonderfully expressive
of the fragrance, the nostalgia, the Russian-ness of the song
[listen -- track 21, 0:00-1:12].
The 'debut' series from EMI is a great enhancement of the recording industry.
The company is to be praised for the enterprise and risk involved. This disc --
if artistic evaluations apply -- seems to be (certainly, ought to be) entirely
risk-free. So -- all strength to its future enterprise. More discoveries, please!