...and that can be a wonderful thing. In the case of this recording, it's one factor that makes it one of the most moving and beautiful I've heard in some time.
One reviewer (I can't recall where I read it, sorry...) said that it felt as if Yokovenko was singing right into the ear of the listener -- and that's a very apt characterization. The notes by the pianist in the booklet recall preparing to perform the songs on the concert stage for the first time, in Moscow, in 1985. He cites the preparation and the performance as one of the happiest moments of his artistic life -- it shows in his performance, as well as in that of baritone Sergey Yokovenko. The opportunity to present a program such as this, with the challenges and rewards that it embodies, is a rare one.
The texts are from a variety of poets -- Pushkin, Baratynsky, Sehvchenko, Mandelstam, Yesenin and other Russians, as well as Western icons Keats and Shelley. Whether Russian or Western in their source, the pieces here are universally beautiful -- the translations are provided in the booklet (as usual with ECM releases, the packaging is first-rate), but this music speaks directly to the soul of the listener. The emotion it carries needs no translation.
As I listen to this recording, I can easily imagine that the music is being performed for me alone -- but I'll be generous and share it with everyone. I can't recommend this CD highly enough -- heartfelt thanks to ECM for making it available. I encourage listeners who are unfamiliar with Silvestrov's work to check out some of the other ECM packages of his music, such as REQUIEM FOR LARISSA; LEGGIERO, PESANTE; and METAMUSIK, POSTLUDIUM.