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When Aida Garifullina won first prize at Operalia in 2013 she endured a fair amount of sniping, mainly due to her good looks. So I am very pleased to report that she has the last laugh: the young Russian soprano has made the most of the opportunity that came her way and her debut album is well worth listening to. Garifullina opens proceedings with Juliette’s Waltz Song and Lakmé’s Bell Song, both calling cards efficiently dispatched but not of major interest: she has good coloratura and comfortable top, but there’s nothing here to marvel at. The remainder of the disc is devoted to Russian pieces and is far more interesting. Garifullina reveals a surprisingly warm middle voice and quite a saturated tone for a light soprano – perhaps her voice will darken as she progresses, so at the moment she is cast as La bohème’s Musetta but I can hear a potential future Mimì. For now she sings sensibly within her means and capitalises on the freshness of her instrument. Plus she has the advantage of singing in her native tongue, so her selections from Rimsky- Korsakov, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov have an emotional directness that her French arias don’t possess. As she develops her talent, I would like to hear more light and shade, especially in repeats of phrases and verses. Cornelius Meister conducts with seriousness of intent and some spacious tempi.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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