Pauline Viardot (1821–1910) was one of the most extraordinary women in the history of music. Daughter of the Spanish tenor Manuel García and sister of the mezzo-soprano Maria Malibran, she studied piano with Liszt and counterpoint and harmony with Reicha, made her debut, also as a mezzo, at the age of sixteen and went on to inspire composers of the stature of Berlioz, Chopin, Gounod, Meyerbeer, Saint-Saëns, Schumann and Wagner, And she was no mean composer herself, as these passionate songs demonstrate. Twelve of them are arrangements of mazurkas by her good friend Frédéric Chopin; the others set some major poems in Russian, a language she spoke fluently.
Ina Kancheva, soprano
Kamelia Kader, mezzo-soprano
Christo Tanev, cello
Ludmil Angelov, piano
Catalogue No: TOCC0303EAN/UPC: 5060113443038Release Date: 01.01.2016Composer: Pauline Viardot Artists: Christo Tanev,
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Kevin Painting :
“For those unfamiliar with her music, this album is the perfect introduction with winning performances by the Bulgarian soprano Ina Kancheva, ably accompanied on the piano by Ludmil Angelov. Viardot was the Maria Callas of her day, a wildly popular operatic diva noted for her vocal agility, her large range spanning three octaves, and her radiant personality. … Saint-Saëns however cited her “impeccable technique” and was enamoured of her songs. … Perhaps Viardot’s best known pieces are her masterly arrangements of 12 Chopin Mazurkas, published in two volumes and performed here in their entirety. … Chopin thought highly of these arrangements and accompanied her in public performances including a concert at Covent Garden in 1848… Ina Kancheva is a fine advocate for these technically demanding pieces which are by turns wistful, nostalgic, joyous and utterly charming. … The revelation in this album comes with the 15 songs written to Russian texts by Pushkin, Turgenev, Fet, Lermontov and others, recorded here for the first time. …instantly likeable pieces… who could fail to be won over by the mischievous setting of the Pushkin poem Old man, cruel husband, delivered by Kancheva with a brisk, cheerful defiance? This enchanting music is not just for connoisseurs; with assured performances and a warm, intimate acoustic, these new recordings are a welcome addition to any music lover’s collection.” –Primephonic, February 2016
Yvan Beuvard :
“A large part of this production (15 songs are recorded here for the first time) relies on the texts of the best Russian poets. … The expressive force of each melody and writing of a high quality, revived by the two outstanding performers, won the support. Their seduction reveals itself fully from the very first listen even though the language is foreign. The heat of “I loved him” (Koltsov), the sweetness of “Aurora” (Turgenev), the vibrant passion of “Invocation” (Pushkin), these are not those melodies that leave one indifferent. … Chopin knew and admired the quality of transcriptions of his mazurkas by Pauline Viardot. … The rewriting of Pauline Viardot demonstrates her qualities as a composer… The songs of freedom, fully inspired by contemporary operas and their cadences as well as ornamentation, take us halfway towards Donizetti and Chopin, though – obviously – the memory of mazurkas of the original remains present in the memory of the listener. The new interpretation easily surpasses known versions.” –Forum Opera, February 2016
Lynn René Bayley :
“But the two who impressed me the most were Bulgarian Ina Kancheva, in her stupendous recital on Toccata Classics 0303, and Russian Julia Sukmanova on Fontenay Classics FC1006. Both have rich, deep lower ranges—remember that Viardsot-Garcia was a mezzo-soprano and not a soprano—and in addition Kancheva has the remarkable flexibility demanded to sing all those trills, mordents and appoggiatura. And this brings us to a more important and germane discussion, which was Viardot’s composing style.” – The Art Music Lounge, May 2017
Daniel Morrison :
“The success of the recital is also due in no small measure to the excellence of the singer, the Bulgarian soprano Ina Kancheva. With well-focused tone, smooth production over her entire range, euphonious and unstrained high notes, and a creamy legato, she is a pleasure to hear. … Pianist Ludmil Angelov’s playing is also excellent. It is clear, precise, sensitive, and well balanced with respect to the voice, neither too assertive nor too reticent. … This release offers some very good songs and excellent singing and is heartily recommended.” —Fanfare Magazine, September/October 2017
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