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*** PROKOFIEV 72 Songs and Romances, Victoria Evtodieva, Lyubov Sokolova, Konstantin Pluzhnikov, Andrey Slavny and Sergei Aleksashkin, singers; Yuri Serov, piano, Delos

April 15, 2001|DANIEL CARIAGA

Virtually unknown outside Russia-only 20 of these 72 pieces have previously been recorded-Prokofiev's complete song-settings are worth getting to know. They run a gamut from folk song arrangements, singsong-y ditties and patriotic and children's songs to full-fledged lyric gems from texts by contemporary poets (Konstantin Balmont and Anna Akhmatova, among others) masterly in their integration and expressivity. The vocal lines reflect their differing literary antecedents and poetic characteristics; the piano parts are idiomatic, complex and atmospheric. Except for a dull and monochromatic bass (Aleksashkin), the singers represent this music faithfully and colorfully. Evtodieva and Sokolova often sing with soaring intensity; tenor Pluzhnikov has a passionate ring not unlike that of the late Jan Peerce; Slavny's seductive baritone delivers words with great feeling and utter clarity. Pianist Yuri Serov plays every item with authority, color and wit.

*

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).

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