This collection contains about a quarter of Rachmaninov's 80 songs, which he wrote between the ages of 17 and 44. The piano accompaniments of the songs are particularly well developed, but are not as revolutionary as the program notes claim, citing Rachmaninov as the single composer responsible for beginning the tradition of writing piano parts equal in importance with the voice, a designation that should rightly be shared by a number of romantic composers. The songs are attractive examples of the composer's late romantic aesthetic, well written for the voice with broad lyrical gestures and fluid, chromatically inflected harmonies. Many of the songs are tinged with a characteristically Russian sense of melancholy. They are successful in establishing a mood, but in spite of their strong lyrical impulse, few have memorable melodic profiles. Russian mezzo-soprano Svetlana Furdui is obviously a passionate advocate for these songs, and she pours herself into them with complete conviction. She shapes them lovingly, and although her pitch is solid, she doesn't have adequate control of her vibrato. That affects all of her singing, giving her voice a coarse edge, and it is especially problematic in the sustained passages. Nataliya Medvedovskaya provides a sensitive and idiomatic accompaniment. The recording sounds like it was made in a very small space, and its closeness and edginess don't flatter Furdui's voice.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Eddins