Zara Dolukhanova - Leider, Songs , Arias, Duets
These four well-filled records encompass something near the whole range of one of Russia’s best-loved and most versatile singers. She was, in fact, not Russian at all but Armenian, born in 1918, and married to a compatriot, Alexander Dolukhanian, one of the most sensitive of the several excellent pianists who accompany here. Unusually, she began her career as a mezzo (there is a magnificent low G on show in Tchaikovsky’s ‘Not a word’, recorded in 1948), but in her mid-forties she lifted her voice into the soprano range. She celebrated the 30th anniversary of her stage début, according to the very thorough author of the booklet-note, Larry Friedman, with a recital containing only one song she had ever sung before.
Very little here seems beyond her. Two Britten Charm of Lullabies songs are included perhaps as curiosities, but her vocal range and her remarkable intelligence take her a long way into many other areas. Her sensitivity to German Lied is by no means common among Russian-trained singers, and it is more than a curiosity to hear her, even in Russian, singing Schumann’s Frauenliebe und –leben. There is only a badly rushed ‘Er, der herrlichste’ to set against beautifully sensitive, warmly phrased performances of ‘Süsser Freund’ and ‘An meinem Herzen’. In Schubert, she lightens her voice attractively for a charming Wiegenlied, and she has a nice shot at Die Forelle, though she is more at home with a performance that warms the over-familiar Ave Maria back into life. She responds with heartfelt delight to a Strauss group, especially Allerseelen and Morgen!. One of the most beautiful of all the performances here is of one of the most beautiful of all Liszt’s songs, Oh, quand je dors. She hurls herself with splendid abandon into the proud phrasing of Falla’s Seven Spanish Popular Songs.
In the Russian repertory, she includes Cui (a pretty song about lilacs), Taneyev (the charming ‘Let it sound no more’), Arensky, Dargomïzhsky, Scriabin and Medtner as well as Tchaikovsky (16 songs) and Rachmaninov (nine songs). Of course she is more on home ground here, but not so strikingly so as to make her seem exclusively a national singer. She brought something individual and valuable to almost everything she did, and these carefully restored recordings, with remarkably little in the way of extraneous noise, make a fascinating compilation of the art of a remarkable singer.