Thursday, 14 November 2013

Amore e Morte - Ekaterina Siurina

Ekaterina Siurina - Amore e Morte: OA CD9017 D
The Russian lyric soprano Ekaterina Siurina gave a recital for Rosenblatt Recitals in 2009 and here she has released a disc in the Rosenblatt Recitals series on Opus Arte. Accompanied by Iain Burnside, Siurina's disc is entitled Amore e Morte and explores the songs of Giuseppe Verdi, Vincenzo Bellini and Gaetano Donizetti.

Though Verdi wrote songs throughout his life, his output dropped radically after publishing his set of songs in 1845. Siurina starts with one of his later songs, Stornello (1869). It is a delightful character piece which is lightly ironic and Siurina brings out the song's perky charm. She has a slimline lyric voice, and in this repertoire gives us something of the soubrette, singing with fine focus and pinpoint accuracy. Perduta ho la pace comes from Verdi's Sei Romanze published in 1838. It is a setting of Goethe's Gretchen am Spinnrade in Italian translation. Verdi concentrates on Gretchen's states of mind creating almost a scena and not a bit of spinning in sight. Siurina brings out the drama in the song, giving a nice edge to the voice and shaping the lines well.

She follows these with a pair of Bellini's songs, L'abbandono (1836) and Malincolia.  Both deal with longing, for a lost lover and for the hills and fountains. These are more salon type songs, suitable for domestic consumption, a charming hint of Bellini's melodic talents. Siurina brings out the lovely melodic shape to Bellini's vocal lines, singing with fine accuracy but I did wonder whether the songs needed a little more charm and warmth.

Donizetti's La conocchia is a delightfully perky rather dance-like number, it sets a Neapolitan folk-text about a girl spinning and comes from the collection Nuits d'Ete a Pausilippe of 1836, Amore et Morte comes from another Donizetti collection Soirees d'automne a l'Infrascata (1837). A dying man leaves a wilted flower for his beloved; Siurina makes it a rather touching thing of lyric beauty with a lovely sense of line.
The final Donizetti song in this group A mezzanotte also comes from Nuits d'Ete a Pausilippe and the singer invites the beloved to come at midnight! The song has rather a silly oom-pah accompaniment. But Siurina makes it highly characterful, both charming and perky with some lovely coloratura.

Rossini's collections of songs were important influences on later composers. La pastorella, La gita in gondola and La promessa come from his collection Les Soirees musicales written in Paris in 1830-35. La pastorella has a certain daft charm, it deals with an Alpine shepherdess demonstrating her yodelling abilities. Siurina is brilliant here, with some lovely coloratura and great accuracy. Her voice has a lovely evenness of production throughout the range. La gita in gondola is a love-song in a gondola, with Siurina giving us a seductive account of the sinuous vocal line, with some lovely fine-grained moments. La promessa sets lines by Metastasio, with another sinuous vocal line which is decorated with some fine coloratura and Siurina's lovely trill.

The final Rossini song comes from later in his career, from Peches de vieillesse. La fioraia fiorentina is a sad portrait of a Florentine flower-girl but Rossini makes it another rather perky number. Siurina sings with charm, and some finely grained coloratura.

We return to Bellini for three more songs. Ma rendi pur contento sets Metastasio, asking love to make his lady happy.  Il fervido desiderio is a fervent wish for the singer to see her beloved. Both songs are beautifully done with Siurina highly expressive, giving a careful shape to the line. We are always aware that however expressive the songs, they are displaying the singers talents as well. Whilst in  Belle Nicea the singer asks to be remembered kindly after death, the result is something rather expressively poignant

A final two Verdi songs. Lo spazzacamino is a wonderful piece, published in Verdi's 1845 collection it has a chimney-sweep introducing himself. Siurina has great fun with the coloratura. Ad una stella comes from the same collection is one of Verdi's finest and most sophisticated songs, having elements in common with La forza del destino written 16 year later. Siurina gives the piece its full weight, making it a thing of profound and sophisticated beauty. And listening to it you cannot help wishing that there were more like it on the disc.

Donizetti's Amore marinaro comes from Soirees d'automne a l'Infrascata and is another Neapolitan song, full of charm and an oom-pah accompaniment. In Eterno amore a fe the poet declares his love for his beloved in poignant and touching number. And in  La zingara we have a gypsy girl dancing, to great dramatic effect.

Throughout Siurina is finely accompanied by Iain Burnside who demonstrates his skill by making both the complex Verdi piano accompaniments and the simpler oom-pah ones all sound just right.

In the songs on this disc, four operatic composers take their talents on a trip into the salon. There are links with operatic output and some of Verdi's songs in particular have strong connections with his operas, but these are songs for the salon often written for the amateur, domestic consumption. But that does not mean that they are simplistic, and Siurina demonstrates great skill in performing them with poise and charm. That said, it is a collection that I will probably only dip into occasionally, but the disc enables us to hear the charm and delight that Ekaterina Siurina brings to the songs.

Amore e Morte
Giuseppe Verdi (1813 - 1901) - Stornello [1.57]
Giuseppe Verdi (1813 - 1901) - Perduta ho la pace [4.06]
Vincenzo Bellini (1801 - 1835) - L'abbandono [3.58]
Vincenzo Bellini (1801 - 1835) - Malinconia, ninfa gentile [1.32]
Gaetano Donizetti (1797 - 1848) - La conocchia [1.59]
Gaetano Donizetti (1797 - 1848) - Amore e morte [2.26]
Gaetano Donizetti (1797 - 1848) - A mezzanotte [3.48]
Gioacchino Rossini (1792 - 1868) - La pastorella dell'Alpi [2.30]
Gioacchino Rossini (1792 - 1868) - La gita in gondola [6.16]
Gioacchino Rossini (1792 - 1868) - La promessa [3.23]
Gioacchino Rossini (1792 - 1868) - la fioraia fiorentina [4.06]
Vincenzo Bellini (1801 - 1835) - Ma rendi pur contento [2.35]
Vincenzo Bellini (1801 - 1835) - Il fervido desiderio [2.30]
Vincenzo Bellini (1801 - 1835) - Bella Nice, che d'amore [2.58]
Giuseppe Verdi (1813 - 1901) - Lo spazzacamino [2.18]
Giuseppe Verdi (1813 - 1901) - Ad una stella [3.08]
Gaetano Donizetti (1797 - 1848) - Amor marinaro [2.12]
Gaetano Donizetti (1797 - 1848) - Eterno amore e fe [2.43]
Gaetano Donizetti (1797 - 1848) - La zingara [3.41]
Ekaterina Siurina (soprano)
Iain Burnside (piano)
Recorded 15-18 February 2010, St Paul's Church, New Southgate, London
OPUS ARTE OA CD9017D 1CD [58.13]

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