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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!

Copyright © 6 July 2003 David Wilkins, Eastbourne, UK


Songs - Shtoda - Gergieva

5 74232 2 DDD Stereo 64'29" 2002 EMI Records Ltd

Daniil Shtoda, tenor; Larissa Gergieva, piano

Tchaikovsky: Serenade Op 63 No 6 (Konstantin Romanov); The Nightingale Op 60 No 4 (Pushkin); Amid the din of the ball Op 38 No 3 (A K Tolstoy); Again, as before, alone Op 73 No 6 (Rathaus); Night Op 60 No 9 (Polonsky); I should like in a single word Op 26 No 1 (Mey, after Heine); It was in the early spring Op 38 No 2 (A K Tolstoy); Why? Op 6 No 5 (Mey, after Heine); Whether day reigns Op 47 No 6 (Apukhtin); Balakirev: Embrace me and kiss me! (Kol'tsov); Spanish song (Mikhailov); Rimsky-Korsakov: The Octave Op 45 No 3 (Maykov); The fleeting bank of cloud is dispersing Op 42 No 3 (Pushkin); The Rose and the Nightingale Op 2 No 2 (Kol'tsov); Of what in the silence of the night Op 40 No 3 (Maykov); The Nymph Op 56 No 1 (Maykov); César Cui: The Burnt Letter Op 33 No 4 (Pushkin); The Statue in Tsarskoye Selo Op 57 No 17 (Pushkin); I loved you Op 33 No 3 (Pushkin); Rachmaninov: Do you remember that evening? (A K Tolstoy); Lilacs Op 21 No 5 (Beketova); They Answered Op 21 No 4 (Mey, after V Hugo); Before my window Op 26 No 10 (Galina); Sing not to me, fair maiden Op 4 No 4 (Pushkin); Loneliness (fragment from De Musset) Op 21 No 6 (trans Apukhtin)



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