Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov Romances Marina Prudenskaya Cord GarbenNikolay Rimsky-Korsakov


Marina Prudenskaya, mezzosoprano

Cord Garben, piano

CPO, 2017

This recording does not include all the Romances written by Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov, but it is limited to seven vocal cycles for a total of thirty pieces, enough to offer a wide and interesting overview, even more valuable because it is performed with remarkable skill by mezzosoprano Marina Prudenskaya and pianist Cord Garben.

Rimsky-Korsakov’s catalogue of songs is immense: it is divided into twenty volumes for one voice and others for two of three voices. As the composer wrote romances at different stages of his career, it offers the chance to follow the development of his style from the first romances composed from the 1860s, when he was still linked to Balakiriev and sought his approval (the recording offers samples from the op. 2, 3, 4, 7 and 8), to the great cycles of the maturity when, after a gap of several years, he set to music poems written by the most celebrated Russian poems as Aleksandr Pushkin, Apollon Maykov and Aleksey Tolstoy.

Marina Prudenskaya & Rimsky-Korsakov’s Romances

Marina Prudenskaya performs the seven opuses with infallible skill. She guesses the composer’s scrupulous attention for the texts and therefore her performance stands out not only for the elegance and softness of her phrasing and for her technical rigour, but first and foremost for the intelligence and intensity with which her singing privileges the text of each song and for the way in which her rich mezzo, dark in the low and middle registers but luminous in the high notes, suggests many evocative and refined images. Her sweetness, abandonment and dreamy temperament suit very well the elegiac melodies that characterize these works in their entirety, even when their texts do not describe perfectly quiet situations.

What is really stunning is Prudenskaya’s easy communicativeness, a feature that helps her in the performance of these short and yet precious works and that makes possible to her to “dialogue” with the listener, to whom she gives the key to understand in depth the romances with remarkable clarity. By the way, a complex, sophisticated approach would have inappropriate for this kind of works and Prudenskaya has done the right think presenting them with all their immediacy, preserving their romantic settings.

Prudenskaya is accompanied from the piano by Cord Garben, who collaborated with singers of the calibre of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Kurt Moll and Anne-Sophie von Otter and is therefore a certainty of professionalism and skill. His accompaniment is not merely a background, but it distinguishes itself for the careful stress of the moods and situations, to offer a more precise context. It can be said that Garben achieves on the instrument the same perfection Prudenskaya achieves through her voice. Definitely, this is a well matched duo.