La Scena Musicale

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Russian Songs / Yuri Gorodetski, tenor (CD Review)

Russian Songs

Yuri Gorodetski, tenor
Tatiana Loisha, piano
ATMA Classique ACD2 2690

I first heard Belarusian tenor Yuri Gorodetski at the Queen Elisabeth Competition (Belgium) in 2008 where he won Fifth Prize.  My impression at the time was a very nice lyric tenor, used with taste and sensitivity, as evidenced in a most poetic and heart-felt ‘Kuda, kuda’ from Eugene Onegin. At the end, he had tears welling up in his eyes. Four years later, he reprised this aria at Chant 2012 in Montreal. While he didn’t win the grand prize – that was won by Canadian baritone Philippe Sly – Gorodetski received the ATMA Classique Prize. This disc, recorded in Salle Françoys-Bernier, Domaine Forget in April 2013, is the result of that award. The program of Russian songs by Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff was a natural choice. These mostly familiar pieces are strong on melancholia – even the happy ones seem to be tinged with traces of sadness. Gorodetski, with his plaintive tone and a well-developed mezza voce in the middle register, is an ideal interpreter of these pieces. There is however a fly in the ointment - his tendency to sing the extreme top notes too “open” as in the high B in the famous ‘Spring Waters’ by Rachmaninoff (Track 12). This unfortunately gives his singing a strident quality. When he attacks a top note with too much force, as in the high C at the end of “Davni l’ moj drug” (Track 20), the line is distorted. Interestingly, I never noticed this technical issue in  the QE Competition back in 2008. These quibbles aside, there is still much to enjoy on this debut album. The well-produced booklet has an essay by Irene Brisson on Russian songs, artist bios, and song texts in Russian, French and English. The recorded sound is clean and warm.  A special kudos to Belarusian pianist Tatiana Loisha, who is supportive of the singer and technically up to the demands of the bravura piano accompaniment, especially in the Rachmaninoff. Recommended for fans of the Russian song repertoire. JOSEPH SO

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