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Joshua Rosenblum
Opera News, May 2017

Martin Bakari has a soulful quality to his pulsing, consistent tenor, and he seems to have a direct line into the emotional content of the songs. His renditions make a powerful impact, and he gives each number the shape the composer clearly wants. In the concluding “A land of Silence,” he manages a lovely floating tone as the melody maneuvers up to a high C, and his sound is thrilling at several musical climaxes. Konstantine Valianatos, a versatile pianist, is right with him at every turn, giving technically pristine and shapely renditions of the varied, often challenging accompaniments. © 2017 Opera News Read complete review



Robert A Moore
American Record Guide, March 2017

Much of this expressive music is sweet and gentle and is sung expressively by a tenor with a sweet and gentle voice. In hearing Bakari’s very light and high voice I was reminded of the late Russell Oberlin, who was called a countertenor but who was really a tenor with a very light and extended high range. Bakari sings with great expressiveness and sounds effortless above the staff; in the concluding ‘Land of Silence’ he hovers around high C. Texts are supplied, but Bakari’s diction is so clear that they are hardly needed.

Much of the emotion of the songs is heard in the accompaniment. Its generally soft tone becomes agitated in the middle songs, as in reflecting on “When this, our rose, is faded”, and gradually gives way to serenity in the final songs. Valianatos captures the mood of the music all the time. © 2017 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide



David Denton
David's Review Corner, December 2016

Grigory Smirnov belongs to that rapidly expanding group of American composers who are presently seeking to reconnect with disaffected classical music audiences. Arriving to study in the States seven years ago from his native Russia, he had already created a favourable impression before his departure, having won a prize in the Prokofiev International Composition Competition. He has expressed his desire to stay well clear of being categorised, his main aim being to offer works that will appeal to a wide cross-section of music lovers, though tonality is the cornerstone of his writing. How he came into contact with the works of the late 19th century English poet, Ernest Dowson, is not made clear in the enclosed booklet, for he is not a name that springs to mind in his homeland, mainly because he lived such a short life. It left to others to promote works that were far from happy in content, Smirnov selecting twelve poems to relate the progress of Dowson’s unsuccessful romance. It is a song cycle very closely related to Benjamin Britten both in style and content. That comment I mean as a complement to a beautiful and deeply moving work. It is sung by the American tenor, Martin Bakari, who adds to the Britten link by having a typical type of British tenor voice. He makes much of the words both in intensity and colouring, often using head-tones to lighten his voice. In Konstantine Valianatos he has a very responsive pianist who perfectly balances his role in the songs, and moves into a leading voice in the Chaconne for cello and piano. Basically it is in a Baroque style and features a much vaunted Russian cellist, Adrian Daurov, his instrument afforded a rather boxy quality by the recording. A small caveat in an appealing disc. © 2016 David’s Review Corner





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