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Heightened Intimacy

Russian Romantic songs -
enjoyed by

'... magically touching musicianship ...'

Russian Romantic Songs - Kaia Urb and Heiki Maetlik. © 2005 harmonia mundi

A delectable, intriguing release; fifteen varied 19th century Russian songs, four guitar solos, eleven composers; the recital presented by soprano and six-string guitar.

Seldom do we hear music such as this with anything other than piano or ensemble accompaniments; here then, is the heightened intimacy that guitar and voice encapsulates to perfection.

While versatile Baltic soprano Urb is frequently in demand as an independent performing artist, during the last 24 years she has simultaneously been soloist for the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir.

As for Mätlik; in both Europe and Australia he is kept busy with TV and radio engagements, masterclasses, concerts, regular recording sessions; periodically also presenting new works written specifically with him in mind.

Alas, a major drawback with this programme, despite its inherent appeal, is the cheapskate playing time (51'02") -- from the outset it's clear that harmonia mundi have short-changed the buying public by almost thirty minutes. The longest track lasts 4'38", the shortest 1'23" -- while most hover around two minutes or less.

In the West the two most widely recognised composers represented here are Tchaikovsky and Glinka and, turning to lyrics; Tolstoy, Golitsyn and Lermontov may ring familiar bells.

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Copyright © 16 August 2006 Howard Smith, Masterton, New Zealand


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