The Russian Connection named in the subtitle of this release by soprano Louise Alder is not some kind of Russian musical influence, but a Russian connection in Alder's life: her family came from Odessa, fled during World War I, and spoke all the languages represented on the album with the except for Swedish. This multinational group of songs, mostly not in the first language of the composers (Swedish, Sibelius' first language, is again one exception), is something of a tour de force on the part of Alder, who not only had to sing in different languages but to master various national styles of singing and song. She has been known for the lighter textures of Mozart and the like, but although she's no Galina Vishnevskaya, she manages the combination of strong and intimate in the Six Songs, Op. 38, of Rachmaninov. The four Sibelius songs, only two from a single set, are interesting in themselves, quite different in style from his early orchestral music of the same period. Alder shifts gears completely for the Seks Sange, Op. 48, of Grieg, in German despite their title, little masterpieces of delicate lyricism. The Six Mélodies, Op. 65, of Tchaikovsky, are in French, written for one of the composer's earlier backers, and they're in quite a different melodic mode from the two Medtner Goethe songs of a decade later, in German. The program concludes with settings by Benjamin Britten of poems by Pushkin in the original Russian, even though the composer did not speak that language (Vishnevskaya gave the works her seal of approval). The album takes its title from the last of these, and again Alder has a difficult balance to find here and strikes it admirably. With equally versatile accompaniment from Joseph Middleton, who suggested the program, and fine Potton Hall sound, this is an important release from a young soprano who is emerging as a major star.