Anita Rachvelishvili

(Digital Download - Sony Classical #G010004252224L)

Review by James Manheim

Mezzo-soprano Anita Rachvelishvili is a genuine sensation, really hitting her stride; she may not yet be a household name, but she is likely to become one soon. She has become known in a variety of operatic roles, but this is her first album of art song. The medium plays to one of her strengths: Rachvelishvili is noted for her range of languages, and here, she offers songs in Russian, French, Italian, and Spanish as well as one in her native Georgian, all reasonably accent free if not always splendidly articulated. Rachvelishvili's voice is a powerhouse, and those wondering whether she could tone it down to song dimensions without losing its remarkable range of colors can relax. Each of the national traditions she touches on has its own flavor, and the entirely distinctive sounds she makes, for instance, in her lower-middle register in the Rachmaninov Romances (these are sung in Russian, although on some online sources, the titles come through in English), lose nothing in the transition to the smaller canvas. She tends toward pieces with simpler melodies, from whatever tradition, and she shows a compelling lyrical style in the likes of Paolo Tosti that would be hard for her to display in opera. Of course, not everything is on the same high level; she seems a bit less comfortable in the Siete canciones populares Españolas of Falla than in the rest, but the very best of the whole album is saved for last, and everywhere there are signs of this singer's explosive talent, of which accompanist Vincenzo Scalera wisely keeps out of the way. Another release confirming Rachvelishvili's star status.