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greater extremes of sonority and telescoping of impassioned events. Noyes savours the possibilities inherent in the orchestral palette as he shapes a cohesive and enveloping narrative.

The performances are sonic pleasures as played by the Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra under Petr Vronsk≥ (Points) and the St Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra under Vladimir Lande (Shadows). Donald Rosenberg

‘Power Players’  ‘Russian Arias for Bass’ Borodin Prince Igor – There’s no sleep, no repose Glinka A Life for the Tsar – They suspect the truth!. Ruslan and Lyudmila – Farlaf’s Rondo; Oh field, field Mussorgsky Boris Godunov – At Kazan, where long ago I fought; Coronation scene Prokofiev War and Peace – Majestic, flashing in the sunshine Rachmaninov Aleko – All the camp is asleep Rimsky‑Korsakov Sadko – Viking Song Rubinstein The Demon – In the ocean of the sky Tchaikovsky Iolanta – Oh Lord, have pity on me! Ildar Abdrazakov bass Kaunas State Choir; Kaunas  City Symphony Orchestra / Constantine Orbelian  Delos F DE3456 (67’ • DDD • T/t)

Some singers rush things and others take time growing into roles. One striking example of the latter is Ildar Abdrazakov, the Russian bass who has excelled most notably in Italian repertoire. But his voice, a lyric instrument, has darkened in recent years to the point where he has begun to inhabit major roles in works of his native land. Abdrazakov brings splendid sonority and nuance to the Russian arias on this disc.

The characters in the cast of this absorbing programme range from tsars and princes to lovers and peasants. The composers are titans of Russian opera – Borodin, Glinka, Mussorgsky, Prokofiev, Rachmaninov, Rimsky-Korsakov, Rubinstein, Tchaikovsky – who exploit the luxurious and impassioned traits of the bass to the max. To each aria, Abdrazakov applies distinctive touches, keeping his silken voice weighty and penetrating or light and buoyant – whatever the dramatic moment demands.

He is as compelling revelling in long lines, as in Gremin’s aria from Eugene Onegin, as he is negotiating the tricky patter in Farlaf’s Rondo from Ruslan and Lyudmila. It is a pleasure to hear Abdrazakov in music not often performed outside Russia, including an aria from Rubinstein’s The Demon, and in a

Wide orchestral palette: Vladimir Lande conducts the St Petersburg State SO in music by Brian Noyes role (Boris Godunov) he likely will command when he decides he’s ready to sing it onstage.

Constantine Orbelian teams vibrantly with Abdrazakov, conducting the Kaunas City Symphony Orchestra and Kaunas State Choir in performances that capture the special sound world of these rich excerpts. Donald Rosenberg

‘Underwater Princess Waltz’  ‘A Collection of One-Page Pieces’ by Karl H  Berger, Earle Brown, Alvin Curran, Nick & Leo  Didkovsky, Joel Ford, Daniel Goode, Clinton  McCallum, Larry Polansky and Christian Wolff  Zwerm and guests  New World F 80748-2 (62’ • DDD)

Here Zwerm interact with printed one-page scores from nine composers of the recent past and the latter part of the 20th century.

Zwerm’s coruscating involvements with composers ranging from old-school classics to newcomers consist of processing with no holds barred, in different configurations and often with friends, a trending niche genre called ‘one-page pieces’. Their realisation of Wolff’s meticulously notated Burdocks, Part VII includes percussion, saxophone, samples of old radio recordings, sine waves and of course guitars. They play Curran’s bittersweet waltzes in simple two-guitar arrangements. More extreme is a minute of Mayhem created by Nick and Leo Didkovsky, Ford’s pulsing Gauss Cannon for Zwerm and drums and McCallum’s wild solo guitar ride round round down. The concluding minimalist stretches of Karl Berger’s Time Goes By provide 14 minutes of rest.

Zwerm’s severe intellectualising of sometimes fanciful physical scores, as detailed in Amy C Beal’s delightfully illustrated booklet-note, brings the musician so deeply and intimately into the experience that the results can be considered the composer’s intentions with no distinction made between the score, its realisation and ‘interpretation’. Theoretically, if you can understand the directions each page provides, even perhaps in a broad conceptual manner, you don’t even need the musicians. Laurence Vittes


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