The Northern Flowers have completed the recording of the complete romances and songs of Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka. This unique and pioneer effort in the history of Russian music, scheduled to suit the 200th anniversary of the great composer, was started as far back as in November 2002. In these 15 months, all 79 works written by Glinka for voice and piano were rehearsed, performed in concert, and recorded for release on CDs. St. Petersburg’s best chamber vocal maestros, Victoria Evtodieva (soprano), Lyudmila Shkirtil (mezzo–soprano), and Piotr Migunov, bass (bass), contributed to the project. Yury Serov provided artistic leadership and performed the piano part.

Glinka left his mark in the history of music primarily as the author of two monumental Russian operas, Life for the Czar and Ruslan and Lyudmila, and as genius creator of symphonic opuses. However, his achievements in miniature vocal compositions are also hard to overestimate. Vocal genres as they had evolved by the early 19th century in Russia (elegy, ballad, feast song, Russian folk–style song, or romance in the Oriental, Spanish, or Italian style) got their classical excellence in Glinka’s music. In these, the richness of lyrical content is matched by exquisite forms; the composer strives to make his vocal tunes expressive and plastic. Addressing poems written by Pushkin, Zhukovsky, Baratynsky, Delwig, or Kukolnik, Glinka in his songs was truly up to the best examples of Russian poetry’s golden age. He was the first–ever Russian composer to have a really deep insight in the essence of a poem, in its rhythms and system of images, and he was the first brave experimenter with his musical material, modifying it to suit the poetical source. Not only was Glinka amazingly precise and harmonious in his vocal embodiments of poetry of his great contemporaries; moreover, he managed to raise even modest–quality poetry to soaring heights with his excellent music.

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