Mstation Classical Reviews

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Sun, 10 Dec 2006

Russian Album -Anna Netrebko

Anna Netrebko, various
Russian Album
Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre
Valery Gergiev
LP, Deutsche Grammophon

Here we have excerpts from works by Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Rimsky-Korsakov, and Prokoviev. The orchestra is St. Petersburg's Mariinsky and the voice Anna Netrebko. Rather nice it is too even if excerpts are a dumbing-down that I don't particularly approve of. They do serve a purpose though and if they act like samplers then maybe people will be drawn in and investigate some of the works more fully.

As luck would have it, I'm listening to this in a hotel room in what used to be Russia - in the Ukraine. It's an awfully long way from here to St. Petersburg but there is much of the old Russia still here and those rich, long string lines that punctuate these Russian pieces speak of the Steppes (which are in this part) as well as they do of the lands of the north. (Baron K)

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Sting does Dowland

John Dowland, Songs from the Labyrinth
Sting and Edin Karamazov
LP, Deutsche Grammophon

There are some who say that all you need to know about Dowland is that he was chronically sad and wrote chronically sad songs. There are those who think Sting is rather sad as well.

Still, let's be fair here. The album has sold very well and the only Dowland expert of my aquaintance thinks Sting made a fair fist of this. For me, his voice is a little harsh these days for a true troubador and the project smacks a lot of using a well-known name to promote a project when I'm sure that there are lots of better voices around. Still, it could have been worse. It could have been the fellow with the funny hats. (Baron K)

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Christmas Vespers

Christmas Vespers at Westminster
incl. Sweelinck, Tallis, Victoria, Shutz,
the choir of Westminster
Cathedral, Martin Baker
LP, Hyperion

The cathedral not the abbey - it's easy to get the two confused and this is from the catholic cathedral just down the road from the abbey. Interestingly, and totally tangenitally, when I was last at an Abbey service last Easter, most of the congregation were catholics. Perhaps they were reclaiming the once catholic place.

The cathedral can be problematic for music in the sense that frequently, at minor services, there isn't much. Alternative places with very high musical standards are the Brompton Oratory (my home church, so I'm prejudiced) and Farm Street, Mayfair. However, the cathedral does have very fine music on certain occasions - and Christmas Vespers is one of them.

And this recording is, as is usual from Hyperion, a very nice capture of the whole thing. (Baron K)

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