In the run-up to the women’s spring holiday, opera soloists of the Primorsky Stage of the Mariinsky have decided to make a musical present for the best half of the human race. The concert brings together almost all male voices of the theatre - tenors, baritones, a bass, who will speak about their love for a woman in the lyrical language of the Russian romance of the 19th century.
The programme is centered around two greatest phenomena of the Russian classical romance - works by Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka (1804-1857), the founder of the nationalist school of Russian composers, and the late-romantic masterpieces by Sergei Vasilyevich Rachmaninoff (1873-1943), who raised the genre of vocal miniature to a new height. The whole “golden age” of the Russian romance is associated with the period lasting between those two composers.
In terms of his perception of the world, Glinka is a real classical composer: his music is full of clarity, bright characters and genre-specific images. His lyrical love songs are most versatile: here we can find a heroic march (The Knight’s Song), a drinking song (I drink to Mary’s health), a Russian wedding song (The Northern star) and spanish tunes (Bolero). The evening programme also features the most popular Glinka’s romances to lyrics by Pushkin I’m here, Inezilia, A fire of desire is burning in my blood, I remember the wonderful moment.
Rachmaninoff is “the last romantic”, intensely feeling tragic collisions of the“turning point epoch”. His romances are real dramatic monologues full of subtle musical and psychological nuances. The part of piano in them is as significant as the vocal line: it does not merely serve as a harmonical basis, the instrument speaks out, comments and empathizes with the singer. The parts of both performers are fused into the seamless whole to such an extent, that separating them will lead to the loss of the whole artistic effect. The range of love emotions also increases - the feelings are running high: from exaltation (I was with her) to despair (Oh, no, I beg you not to go). In his works, Rachmaninoff succeeded in turning vocal miniatures into a truly concert genre.
However, these heights wouldn’t have been achieved without a number of works by other outstanding composers.
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) was regarded by Rachmaninoff as an iconic and creative guiding figure, who could combine in his romances everyday intonations of the urban culture and the high art of opera; some of his vocal miniatures seem to have come from the pages of Eugene Onegin (Why?, To forget so soon). A considerable contribution into development of Romance lyricism was also made by his contemporaries: Alexander Sergeyevich Dargomyzhsky (1813-1869) extended the boundaries of the genre of serenade; Alexander Porfiryevitch Borodin (1833-1887) created the elegy For the shores of your distant native land, unmatched in terms of the depth of its tragic feelings and nobility of expression. It is extremely interesting to compare two interpretations of an oriental flair presented in the Persian Song by Anton Grigoryevich Rubinstein (1829-1894) and the romance She is as lovely as the noon by Rachmaninoff.
There are as many diverse genre interpretations, in which the composers address the theme of timeless feelings, as there are various shades of love. The concert ”With Love For a Woman” demonstrates all the richness of the Russian romance lyricism, which will satisfy the demands of both unsophisticated listeners and music affectionados, while the performance by wonderful singers of the Primorsky opera company will make this evening truly unforgettable.