Dissonance is a new CD of Rachmaninov songs from Lithuanian pair Asmik Grigorian and Lukas Geniušas. Regular readers will know Ive been getting quite excited by Ms. Grigorian’s opera performances so I jumped at the chance to hear her sing art song; especially paired with Geniušas who is more of a concert pianist than an accompanist.
The result is very pleasing. The songs, drawn from throughout Rachmaninov’s career are quite varied. There’s definitely a bias towards fin de siècle tristesse and, indeed, some of the songs sound quite French but there is plenty of contrast though. The song that opens the recital and gives it its name; Dissonance Op.34 No.13 is long and has a very assertive piano part played boldly by Geniušas. They Answered Op.21 No.4 is a rather dramatic call and response number based on a poem by Victor Hugo. What Happiness Op.34 No.12 is actually a bit demented, putting heavy demands on both singer and pianist while Let Us Rest Op.26 No.3 sets the closing lines of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya and is achingly beautiful.
These songs place considerable demands on the singer. Tonally they cover pretty much the whole soprano range and they range from the dramatic to songs needing the utmost restraint. Grigorian manages all of this with no sense of strain and some really beautiful singing. She’s essentially a dramatic soprano but she can control the voice down to lovely pianissimos. The partnership with Geniušas is just that. There’s no sense that either is playing second fiddle to the other. So, all in all, 45 minutes of really well done Russian art song.
The recording is clear and well balanced. It was made in the Salle Colonne in Paris in 2021 and is available as a physical CD and in a variety of download and streaming formats. (I listened to standard CD quality .wav). There’s a booklet with notes, bios and texts in English and French.
Catalogue number: Alpha 796