Sony Classical is proud to present the new album from the Georgian mezzo-soprano Anita Rachvelishvili: Élégie showcases her in the song repertoire to which she has a special connection despite being best known as a star of the world's greatest opera houses. Riccardo Muti has called her 'without doubt the best Verdi mezzo-soprano today on the planet,' but here she reveals another side to her art.
"I really love this repertoire," says Rachvelishvili. "It gives one more colours and more possibilities for expressing emotions with the voice." Add in the fact that her programme features five languages—representing five very different repertoire traditions—and it becomes clear that the new releases is notable for its variety.
Rachvelishvili presents songs in Russian, Georgian, Italian, French and Spanish. Echoing her debut album of operatic arias on Sony, she introduces listeners to a great if internationally neglected Georgian composer, in this case Otar Taktakishvili, heard in Sun of Haying Month, a setting of the distinguished Georgian poet Galaktion Tabidze.
Georgian singers have long been famous for their interpretations of Russian music, and sometimes Russian composers have repaid the complement. Rachmaninov's setting of the Pushkin poem Do not sing to me, my beauty evokes the beauty of Georgia and its people. Another famous Russian song, Tchaikovsky's None but the lonely heart, opens the recital, which Rachvelishvili presents in partnership with the pianist Vincenzo Scalera.
Rachvelishvili explores her musical interests and personal affinities further in songs by Duparc and Tosti. She has sung Duparc (whose music has a special appeal for mezzos) for a long time and made his remarkable music a part of her training in the belief that French song is good for the voice. With Tosti, she gets to sing in one of her favourite languages, Italian, a feeling that transports her back to the time of her studies in Milan.
Like all artists, Rachvelishvili has experienced the disruption of Covid-19. She has remained in demand, however, whether appearing in the Metropolitan Opera's online At-Home Gala or live with Greek National Opera in Athens. But in a year dominated by isolation, this album (recorded in her home city of Tbilisi just a few weeks before the shutters came down) shows that there is beauty in musical introspection.