GRETCHANINOV Snowflakes, op. 47. With a Sharp Pole-Ax, op. 1/2. Lullaby, op. 7/4. Night, op. 5/2. She Was Yours, op. 7/1. Lullaby, op. 1/5. The Collector of the Bell, op. 35/2. Evening, op. 20/1. Night, op. 20/3. Je t’adore, op. 48/3. And I Dreamed of a Faraway Land, op. 63/5. In the Evenings, in the Hours of Sad Dreams, op. 51/5. Cat, op. 89/4. The First Snow, op. 89/2. Auntie Agashka, op. 96/3. Prayer, op. 93/1. Flower, op. 93/3. Youth, Bitterly Weeping, op. 93/5. Evening, op. 97/6. To a Cupbearer, op. 93/7. The Rosy Reflection of Sunset. Lullaby, op. 84/3. The Speckled Hen, op. 85/1. Tari-tari, op. 85/4 • Georgine Resick (sop); Warren Jones (pn) ? BRIDGE 9142 (64:43)
Pianist and composer Alexander Gretchaninov (1864–1956)Read more attended the Moscow Conservatory, first as a pianist, then studying with Arensky and Taneyev. From 1890 he worked with Rimsky-Korsakov in St. Petersburg. He left Russia for Paris in 1925, moving from there in 1939 to the US, where he died in New York in 1956, at the age of ninety-one. He became an American citizen in 1946.
Gretchaninov composed prolifically in all genres (about 200 opus numbers), including several children’s operas and five symphonies, but today he may be best known for his songs, which, though perhaps out of fashion, appear on recitals and in (mostly older) recital recordings. Georgine Resick and Warren Jones recorded this set more than seven years ago. Lyric soprano Resick has a penchant for out-of-the-way recital repertoire; she has in her discography a disc of Koechlin songs, for example, among other interesting fare. She also appears frequently with several opera companies and orchestras in the US. Warren Jones is an accomplished and sought-after accompanist, probably familiar to recital-goers from his work with such artists as Barbara Bonney, Samuel Ramey, and many others.
These songs range from probably the first 30 years or so of Gretchaninov’s long career, representing 15 different opus sets; the Lullaby, op. 1/5, was his first published work. The composer’s choice of poetry ranges from Lermontov and Tolstoy in the op. 1 songs to folk and unattributed texts, and a slew of other Russian poets, along with Baudelaire in French and Heine in translation. The recital is set up with the songs grouped conceptually—in the order listed above—with groups representing the “Russian National School, Lyricism”; “Impressionist/Symbolist Influence”; “Children’s Songs”; “Return to Russian Lyricism on the Eve of Emigration,” and “Songs on Folk Texts,” plus the op. 47 cycle of 10 songs and the four songs from the op. 93 Pushkin settings. There are aspects of the style that are consistent—a naturalness of phrasing, the precision of the mood painting, a tendency to find the surprising, abrupt modulation that, once heard, immediately seems inevitable. Most appealing are the unpretentious children’s songs and folk text settings, while the overt Romanticism of the so-grouped “impressionist”-influenced songs (the op. 20 songs and the three that follow), three of which have originally non-Russian texts, seems a little put on.
Resick’s performances follow similar contours. Her light-filled voice is excellent in the children’s songs and the other songs of high character, although whenever the line turns legato, particularly in higher ranges, articulation of the text suffers. This results, too, in those aforementioned Romantic songs, and a couple of others, such as the op. 97 Evening, being a little blurred. (I had to listen to Je t’adore a couple of times just to make sure it was in French.) The texts are all given in English only, but apart from the above-mentioned songs, the Russian is quite clearly audible (though Resick’s accent likely wouldn’t be mistaken for a Russian’s).
While there are quite a few recordings of Gretchaninov’s instrumental or choral works in the catalog, as far I can tell this is the only monograph of his songs available right now. In spite of the reservations noted above, amounting to parts of five or six songs, this recital of 33 pieces is, all told, a delightful success. -ROBERT KIRZINGER, FANFARE Read less
Works on This Recording
Snowflakes, Op. 47by Alexander Grechaninov Performer:
Georgine Resick (Soprano),
Warren Jones (Piano)
Period: 20th Century Written: 1909; Russia