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Remy Franck
Pizzicato, October 2020

Margarita Gritskova sings all 20 songs of this programme with the greatest sensitivity. Her performances are ideally declamatory and full of atmosphere. It becomes clear what an amazing variety of expression and moods the composer was able to achieve, often with the simplest musical means. Gritskova’s wide-ranging, excellently focused mezzo voice has impeccable rhythmic control, which not only gives her singing a great richness of nuances and colours, but also allows her to closely link with Maria Prinz’ excellent piano playing.

So if you want to get a good overview of Shostakovich’s song compositions and maybe feel like listening to more, this CD is an excellent choice. © 2020 Pizzicato Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, October 2020

Dmitri Shostakovich was a hugely prolific composer of songs, often published in groups, twenty here charted in chronological order over the years 1922 to 1974.

It has often been commented that he used texts to reflect the very differing periods imposed upon him by the Communist regime, though more likely there was a desire to select verses that appealed to him. Read the words of the opening track—The Dragonfly and the Ant—and you picture the composer as the poor dragonfly. If they were scrutinised by a censor, they certainly missed out on the verses by British poets, and he was also treading on dangerous ground in the songs ‘From Jewish Folk Poetry’. Joy and good humour comes when the young man tries to teach his girl the name of stars in a Spanish song from 1956. Maybe many had a double meaning, but taken as works of musical interest, they are outstanding, and stand as the Russian equivalent to the greatest of the German Leider cycles. His piano accompaniments are sharply characterised by Maria Prinz, who not only supports the vocal line, but also perfectly reflects and adds to the words. The performances by the St. Petersburg born mezzo, Margarita Gritskova, capture every nuance of the music, often resolutely pleading the cause of the writer, as you will find in the Fourth of the Japanese group—For the First and Last Time. And so I could comment on the import of the whole of the twenty tracks that place the release as landmark Shostakovich, the composer saying ‘goodbye’ to his life with words of Michelangelo Buonarroti who reflects on immorality. The sound engineering was in conjunction with Bavarian Radio in 2019. Fervently recommended. © 2020 David’s Review Corner

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