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Blu-ray Review

Dinara Alieva in Moscow

  • Jacques Offenbach: Orphée aux enfers (Overture)
  • Gustave Charpentier: Louise (Act III "Depuis le jour")
  • Umberto Giordano: Fedora (Act II Intermezzo)
  • Jules Massenet: Manon (Obéissons quand leur voix appelle / Adieu, notre petite table)
  • Giacomo Puccini: Manon Lescaut (Act II Intermezzo)
  • Francesco Cilèa: Adriana Lecouvreur (Act I "Io son l'umile ancella")
  • Manuel de Falla: La vida breve (Spanish Dance #1)
  • Federico Moreno Torroba: La marchenera (La Petenera)
  • Pablo Luna: El nino judio (De Espana vengo)
  • Leonard Bernstein: Symphonic Dances "West Side Story" (IV. Mambo)
  • Harold Arlen: The Wizard of Oz (Over the Rainbow)
  • Frederick Loewe: My Fair Lady (I Could Have Danced All Night)
  • Johann Strauss II: Frühlingsstimmen (Voices of Spring), Op. 410
  • Franz Lehár: Giuditta (Act IV "Meine Lippen, sie kussen so heiss")
  • Emmerich Kalman: Die Csárdásfürstin (Silva's Aria)
  • George Gershwin: Porgy and Bess (Summertime)
  • Hans J. Salter: Potpourri of Russian Songs: Homage to Deanna Durbin, from The Butler's Sister
Dinara Alieva, soprano
The Grand Choir, Masters of Choral Singing
Russian National Orchestra/Constantine Orbelian
Delos Blu-ray DV7008 90:42 PCM Stereo DTS-HD Master Audio
Find it at AmazonFind it at Amazon UKFind it at Amazon GermanyFind it at Amazon CanadaFind it at Amazon FranceFind it at Amazon JapanOrder Now from ArkivMusic.comFind it at CD Universe Find it at JPC
Also available on DVD DV7007: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe - JPC

This Blu-ray disc documents one of the most unusual, colorful and audience-pleasing concerts you're likely to encounter. As you can see from the heading, it contains a mixture of vocal numbers from opera, operetta, Broadway musicals and films interleaved with orchestral intermezzos, overtures and other short pieces mostly from the same genres. Not necessarily so unusual, you say? Well, here we have a major Russian orchestra in Moscow playing music by French, Italian, Spanish, German and American composers. No Russians on the concert bill! Well, Russian music is represented rather indirectly via an American film in the last track, an encore titled "Potpourri of Russian songs: Homage to Deanna Durbin, from the Film The Butler's Sister." Actually the movie's correct title was His Butler's Sister.

At any rate, it's actually not the repertory or other circumstances that make this disc so utterly special; no, it's the new superstar on the scene here, Dinara Alieva. When she comes on stage after the orchestra opens with a spirited account of Offenbach's Overture from Orphée aux engers, she delivers a stunning Depuis le jour, from Charpentier's Louise. And she practically brings down the house with every succeeding number. In the new century we've had a succession of divas ascending to the highest echelons of opera: Anna Netrebko, Diana Damrau and now Sonya Yoncheva (Sony 88875-01720-2) and the spectacular Ms. Alieva. Born in Baku, Azerbaijan in 1980 she debuted at the Bolshoi in 2009 as Liu in Puccini's Turandot and has since had a meteoric rise on the operatic stage. She has a powerful soprano voice that is a bit dark, almost mezzo-like. But she can hit the high notes too, and unlike many sopranos from Eastern Europe she has a beautifully controlled vibrato that never turns into wobble. She has all the qualities to continue as one of the leading sopranos on the world's stages.

Her Obéissons quand leur voix appelle is sung with charming subtlety and grace but has a spectacular ending with a volley of high notes that draws enthusiastic applause not only from the audience but from conductor Constantine Orbelian. Ms. Alieva sings Adieu, notre petite table with mesmerizing passion and she really turns on the charm with her knock-out rendition of Torroba's Petenera. In fact, she seems as much at home in the Spanish repertory as the Italian and French. As for the American music here, Harold Arlen's Somewhere over the rainbow is sung with a bit more sophistication than what listeners might be used to, but it's still a beautiful and thoroughly convincing account. There is plenty of lightness and glitter in Loewe's I could have danced all night, and Gershwin's Summertime has a delightful bluesy and sensual quality.

The orchestra performs well in all its numbers. Even the Bernstein Mambo, which you might expect to sound a bit stiff when played by Russian musicians, has a real sense of swing and sass, probably because of Orbelian, who is American-born and -raised. He is of Armenian and Russian parentage and spent time in the USSR in his teens for music studies, thus giving him a good grasp of both American and Russian culture. The chorus sings well also in the several numbers in which they perform. At any rate, this is a splendid concert with sound reproduction, camera work and picture clarity of first rate quality. Highly recommended!

Copyright © 2015, Robert Cummings

Trumpet