Talisman: A Tribute To Stesha: The Russian-Gypsy Diva

Talisman: A Tribute To Stesha: The Russian-Gypsy Diva
Title: A Tribute To Stesha: The Russian-Gypsy Diva
Label: Naxos

This recording is a tribute to the celebrated Russian-Gypsy diva Stepanida Soldatova (1787-1822), whose talent and imaginative performances influenced several generations of Russian musicians, composers, and writers. Professionally trained in bel canto, Stepanida synthesized her own signature style, combining the qualities of virtuoso operatic style and the oral performance tradition of Eastern-European Gypsies (Rroma).Stesha, as she was known to her friends, started her performing career very young, singing with the famous Gypsy choir that was founded by Count Orlov during the reign of Catherine the Great. When she was only sixteen, she had a chance to listen to Teresa Maciurletti, an actress of the St Petersburg Italian Opera who performed several concerts in Moscow in 1803. This encounter apparently defined young Stesha's aspirations to study professional music and the art of bel canto, and to apply these skills to her performance of Russian folk-songs. The direction this young singer chose for herself was completely atypical for a Gypsy musician of the time. Stesha was lucky to find a wealthy and competent music-lover who 'applied all possible means to educate her extraordinary talent and taste'. She soon began to perform with her own ensemble, consisting of a male guitarist, a male violinist, and two more women singers. Typically for the Gypsy ensembles of the time, all members of the group also sang in choruses and danced; Stepanida herself was described as an extraordinary dancer.The album concludes with a suite, based on two arrangements by Ivan Rupin (1792-1850), a talented singer and composer sometimes referred to as 'The Russian Nightingale'. Like Stesha, he too was trained in bel canto by the Italian singer P. Muscetti in Moscow, and even Italianised his last name in his publications as Rupini. For Rupin and his peers it was customary to pair a slower song with an upbeat one: this is how My Little Dove [17] and I Walked On The Flowers [18] were originally published. In our performance we add the Rroma folk-song Kaj jone romale? [19]. The juxtaposition of Rupin's Italianate style and the genuine Rroma sound of the living Gypsy tradition, as well as the striking contrast between classical and Rroma vocal production make this suite the epitome of Talisman's 'Stesha' project.

1.1 Khelebnitko (Dance Tune)
1.2 Little Willow Tree
1.3 As the Mist Rose
1.4 Dance, Dzhandzha
1.5 Luchinushka (Little Light)
1.6 Tired of Fighting
1.7 I Knew No Worries
1.8 I Walked Many Miles
1.9 Ah, Had I Known Before
1.10 Ah, Mother, I Have a Headache
1.11 A Dark-Eyed Lad
1.12 Hour After Hour
1.13 I Am a Gypsy Girl
1.14 My Horse, My Horse
1.15 How Did I Upset You?
1.16 Variations on Luchinushka
1.17 My Little Dove
1.18 I Walked on the Flowers
1.19 Where Have the Gypsies Gone

Talisman: A Tribute To Stesha: The Russian-Gypsy Diva

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