Arias from Gounod's Romeo and Jujliet,k Lakmé, Sadko, The Snow Maiden, Mazeppa, The Golden Cockddrel, ; songs by Tchaikovsky, Rimeky--Korsakov, and traditiohal songs
Aira Garifullina, soprano; ORFWien Symphony Orch/Xornelius Meister, cond.
DECCA 478 8305 TT: 59:00

Music of Strauss, Tchsaikovsky, Wagner, Schöenberg, and Bize
tJESSYE NORMAn, soprano. James Levine, pianist
ORFEO C 926 161 TT: 80 min.

Russian soprano Aida Garifullina is the latest sensation on the operatic scene. Born in 1987 in Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan, she won prizes and was endorsed by Juan Diego Flörez, Plácido Domingo, Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Andrea Bocelli. Valery Gergiev presented her in St. Petersburg, and she already has two recordings for Decca, mostly of Russian songs. She also sang the Lakmé Bell Song ont the soundtrack recording of Florence Foster Jenkins. Garifullina sings a wide variety of music on this new release, mostly Russian arias. Her voice is rich, sometimes with unevenness of tone, and she is adept at coloratura. She is a very beautiful woman, at the beginning of her career. She is most impressive in the final track , Midnight in Moscow, in which she is accompanied by the Osipov Stater Folk Orchestra. The recording was made recently in Vienna in a very resonant acoustic. You can see her in a number of performances on YouTube including some of the music on this disk.

Jessye Norman, one of the major sopranos of her era, enjoyed a long career continuing to perform well into the '90's. Norman sang a wide variety of roles, from Gluck to Wagner, and her stage presence was imposing. In her later years, her upper register was less controlled; I recall a PBS telecast from 1994 where she had problems with Brünnhilde's Immolation in a performance with Masur and the New York Philharmonic, although the preceding group of Strauss songs were sung with assurance and beauty.Norman was in top form on this recital August 6, 1991, one of many she presented at the Salzburg Festival. Norman excels in this repertory, with sensitive accompaniment from Levine. The only negative is the final encore, a very leisurely account of the Habanera, a turgid, cloying performance. Excellent audio, but no texts are provided.


R.E.B. (February 2017)