Home | Reviews | Articles | Festivals | Competitions | Other | Contact Us


Vassily Savenko bass-baritone/Alexander Blok - piano

Hyperion Records “Russian Images”  

Volume 1 CDA67105 [1993 & 1998 – 60 mins]

Glinka –
Ah, the sweetness of being beside you; Bolero

Dargomyzhsky – The Night Zephyr; The Miller; I remember

Borodin – For the shores of your far homeland

Balakiriev – Embrace, kiss

Rimsky-Korsakov – On the hills of Georgia

Cui – The Fountain Statue of Tsarkoye

Mussorgsky – Forgotten; Mephistopheles' Song of the Flea

Tchaikovsky – I bless you, forests; In the midst of the ball; Don Juan's Serenade

Arensky – Autumn

Medtner – I have outlived my aspirations; Spring Solace

Gretchaninov – The Prisoner

Lyatoshinsky – Dawn   

Rachmaninov – She is as beautiful as noon ; It is time



Volume 2 CDA67205 – [1999 – 71 mins]

Glinka –
Travel Song; Stanzas; Doubt

Tchaikovsky – A tear trembles; My genius, my angel, my friend; Frenzied Nights

Arensky – A Dream; I have seen death; Was it so long ago to enchanting strains

Taneyev – Dense Forests; And the foes stood trembling; Winter Journey

Medtner – Twilight; Unexpected Rain; Invocation

Rachmaninov – Do not sing, my beauty; The Muse; Arion

Mosolov – Three Romances: Recollection; Desire; To the Sea



These two wide ranging recitals are a “must” for any admirer of Russian music. Alongside one or two staple favourites are a host of wrongfully-neglected rarities to be discovered and enjoyed.


The songs on each disc are arranged in roughly chronological sequence – Glinka and Dargomyzhsky, the “fathers” of Russian music leading on to the “Mighty Handful” and their students who in turn became teachers to the following generation.


A wide variety of poets are also represented, though unsurprisingly Pushkin gets the lion's share, and full texts and translations are included.


The songs are too numerous to analyse individually, and each listener will have their own favourites. So, I'll confine myself to picking out a few which were new to me and caught my particular fancy.


Balakirev's Embrace, kiss has an especially charm, with the piano waltzing gently in the background as the singer encourages his mournful lover to cheer up and put on a more colourful pretty dress.


Gretchaninov's The Prisoner brings out every inch of the drama in Pushkin's poem, imagining a captive eagle's dreams of the chance to just fly away.


The second collection includes two interesting musical journeys – Glinka's Travel Song unexpectedly reveals a train chuffing cheerfully along and Taneyev's Winter Journey is more predictably a sleigh ride although the passenger dreams of riding a wolf to a magic kingdom where the firebirds sing by night.


Vassily Savenko is a singer of the greatest sensitivity, and he is well matched by his pianist, Alexander Blok. This is recital making of the highest order, and recommended accordingly.


Serena Fenwick


[These CDs, neither new nor re-releases, were kindly supplied in connection with Joan Rodgers' 2006 City of London Festival recital, in which some rarely heard and unassertive songs by Medtner grabbed our attention. PGW]





© Peter Grahame Woolf