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The Art of Oda Slobodskaya
The Decca & Rymington van Wyck recordings
Hebrew Melody (Yevreyskaya Melodiya) 1859 (Lermontov/Byron)
In the Forest by the Front Line
From my tears sprang flowers
Morskaya tsaryevna (The Princess Of the Sea)
The Fountain Statue at Tsarskoye Selo, Op. 57 No. 17
Lullaby, Op. 108
The Dreary Steppe
Like an angel
Nursery Rhymes (7)
Dunyushka, Op. 104
Lilacs, Op. 21 No. 5
How fair this spot, Op. 21 No. 7
To my children, Op.26, No. 7
Small island, Op. 14 No. 2
The Soldier’s Wife, Op. 8, No. 4
Six Spanish Songs Op. 100
Stories for Children (3)
My Heart is Beating
In the Silence of the Night
Was I not a blade of grass?, Op. 47 No. 7
Zabït tak skoro (So soon forgotten)
If only I had known, Op.47, No.1
Na nivi zhyoltiye (On the golden cornfields), Op. 57 No.2
Puskay pogibnu ya 'Tatiana's Letter Scene' (from Eugene Onegin)
London Symphony Orchestra, Anatole Fistoulari
I would have kissed you
Oda Slobodskaya (soprano) & Ivor Newton (piano)
Born in 1888, the Russian soprano Oda Slobodskaya won a scholarship for secondary education but, having completed her schooling, to her displeasure, found herself working with her parents in a second hand clothes shop. Despite having no formal musical training, she travelled, at the age of eighteen, from her hometown of Vilno (then part of the Russian Empire) some 300 miles to St. Petersburg, to audition. She was successful. During the Russian revolution she was ordered to join other singers on obligatory tours to factories and farms to entertain the workers. At the invitation of Diaghilev she starred in the premiere of Stravinsky’s opera Mavra. The impresario Rabinoff organised for her to tour America as star soloist with The Ukranian Chorus and while there she made a successful solo debut at Carnegie Hall in New York. But, as a displaced Russian living abroad when appreciation of the Russian repertoire was minimal, Slobodskaya had difficulty finding a good manager. It was at this point that her career took a most unexpected turn. She was persuaded that as a stop-gap measure to earn some much-needed cash she might utilise her talents in the Variety Theatre rather than the opera house, and so under the assumed name of Odali Careno she made her variety debut in Baltimore in 1928. Dressed in a stunning eau-de-nile gown, she was a sensation, singing a mixture of familiar opera arias, ballads and popular songs.
Slobodskaya’s recordings are few and far between. A handful of Medtner songs with the composer at the piano were recorded early in the 20th century for HMV. In 1938 she recorded eight sides of Russian songs for a limited edition set of four 78s issued by the Rimington van Wyck record shop in Leicester Square. Slobodskaya had been heard on the radio by Mr. Frederick T. Smith, owner of RvW, and he was so overwhelmed by her voice that he paid for the records to be recorded by Decca. They were issued in May 1942 in a limited edition of 2000 in an attractive brown and gold album. Decca recorded her again in 1945 and 1946, and then in 1961.
The recordings are of cult status, much sought after by collectors of great vocal treasures, and this is their first issue on Decca CD. Andrew Dalton has compiled the collection and provided the liner notes, and the booklet is illustrated with all the album jackets as well as illustrations from program booklets, making this a real collector’s item.
This release marks the launch of an Eloquence series of notable recitals of songs and opera arias by some of the great voices of Decca and Deutsche Grammophon.
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Shostakovich & Rachmaninov Songs
We shall rest, Op.26, No. 3
Christ is risen, Op.26 No. 6
The ring, Op.26, No.14
I await you, Op.14 No. 1
Thoughts, reflections, Op. 8 No. 3
O niet molyu ni ukhodi, Op.4 No.1
Oh, do not grieve, Op.14 No. 8
Prokhodit vse, Op.26 No.15
How pained I am, Op. 21 No.12
In my soul, Op.14 No.10
Morning, Op. 4 No. 2
A dream, Op. 8 No. 5
V molchanii nochi taynoy, Op. 4 No. 3
Six Spanish Songs Op. 100
Five Songs to lyrics by E Dolmatovsky Op. 98
“This is a distinctly beautiful voice, with some power but no undue showiness, an often crystalline top, good diction and expressive intelligence.” BBC Music Magazine, January 2009 ****
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Stravinsky, Shostakovich & Szymanowski: Songs
Jadwiga Rappé (alto); Mariusz Rutkowski, Waldemar Malicki, Maja
This recording, featuring works by three great composers of the previous century, presents different facets of twentieth-century song. These beautifully crafted songs are performed by the internationally renowned alto Jadwiga Rappé. She has appeared on stage in numerous European countries, USA, Canada and Japan, performing at the most prestigious concert halls including – Concertgebouw, Royal Albert Hall and Carnegie Hall.
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Shostakovich: Complete Songs Volume 1
Victoria Evtodieva (soprano), Natalia Biryukova (mezzo-soprano), Fyodor Kuznetsov (bass), Mikhail Lukonin (baritone), Yuri Serov (piano)
“Here are two CDs dedicated to some of the finest and most under-recorded song repertoire of the 20th century. Yury Serov is the presiding spirit; his sharply characterised piano playing radiating musical and cultural understanding, and his singers are first-rate.
The first volume is dedicated to the 1950s and contains several first recordings; few, if any, of the songs have ever appeared on CD before.
Much of his music from this time is marked by various nuances of cheerfulness (tentative, determined, over-stated, but never as brattish as in his first maturity). Often these seem rather to belie his true nature. Indeed, only the four Pushkin Monologues, with their topics of suffering, sorrow, imprisonment and resistance, are easily recognisable as the voice of Shostakovich, the Chronicler and Conscience of his Times. Fyodor Kuznetsov is slightly unsteady of voice here, but he still manages to convey a quality of wise, noble weariness that rings absolutely true.
It's to the enormous credit of all four singers that most of the remaining songs come across not as mere sops to authority but as genuine attempts to take on new artistic challenges.
Was it still possible to do something worthwhile with the homespun, soft-centred verses of Yevgeny Dolmatovsky? Many of Shostakovich's countrymen certainly thought he had done so, at least in respect of 'The Homeland is Listening' (first of the Op 86 Songs), since this was taken up as a signature tune for All-Union Radio and was actually sung by Yuri Gagarin during the first manned space-flight. Seemingly looking back to the tradition of Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov and Rachmaninov, Shostakovich's two Lermontov Romances are gorgeously atmospheric and tender. By contrast his earthier Greek and Spanish Songs reflect his long-standing interest in poetry from other national traditions. Was his heart in them? Again you wouldn't find it hard to think so after hearing these fine performances.
Volume 2 gathers together the cycles from the last decade of Shostakovich's life, with the exception of his massive Suite on Verses byMichelangelo. While this repertoire isn't quite so rare as that on Volume 1, the performances are just as fine. In the Blok cycle – surely the finest songs on the disc – Evtodieva may not be the last word in subtlety, but she's still far preferable to the crude hectoring of Natalia Gerasimova on Chant du Monde. Given that the Four Verses ofCaptain Lebyadkin are otherwise unavailable, and the extraordinarily elusive Six Marina TsvetayevaPoems can currently be obtained only in the composer's orchestrated version, this disc is again pretty well self-recommending.
Altogether this enterprise is a winner. The recording quality is good, though there's a slight 'pinginess' to the piano sound.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
(also available to download from $10.50)
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