Songs and Duets from Slovenija! – Bernarda Fink, soprano/ Marcos Fink, baritone/ Anthony Spiri, piano – Harmonia mundi 902065, 69:65 ****:
The Fink siblings were born in Argentina to Slovenian parents, and have maintained a close cultural contact to their homeland roots all their lives. Finally this connection has made itself manifest in this collection of Slovenian songs by a host of composers, the second recording Fink and Fink have made together.
Slovenia does not immediately come to mind when one is considering classical music, and with good reason. Situated so close to the Hapsburg Empire that it could smell the strudel, the influences from that environs tended to dominate all else and prevent Slovenes from developing culturally, and there was no real concentrated center of activity that Slovenian composers could count on to seek out the new, different, or even vaguely in vogue. It was not until the nationalist movements of the mid-late 1800s that they began to come into their own, and the medium of song was one of the greatest expressive forms chosen. When it hit it hit big, though most of this music was infected by a heightened romanticism, sometimes seeming a little anachronistic for the time period to my ears, but nonetheless very effective and surely enticing. The composers represented here will not be known to many people, but their work is constructive and formidable in its elegance and ability to persuade an audience through its faithfulness to the spirit of the words chosen.
By now Bernarda Fink is a household word among those classical aficionados in the know, and with good reason, her tonal luster and perfect phrasing having become a hallmark of her style. Marcos is not as well-known but here also presents himself with complete authority in music that he undoubtedly has been singing for years. Add the support of American pianist Anthony Spiri to the typically excellent Harmonia mundi sound, and you have a very desirable release of some out-of-the-way material that is well worth hearing.
Adamič: Trobentice (Primroses); Uspavanka (Lullaby)
Gerbič: Kam? (Where?); Pojdem na prejo (I’ll Watch the Girls Spinning); V noči (In the Night)
Geržinič: Žalostno pismo (Sad Letter); Jesenska pesem (Autumn Song); Mrak Dusk; Pomladna radost (Spring Delight)
Ipavec: Pomladni počitek (Spring Rest); V noči (In the Night); Divja roža in bršljan (Wild Rose and Ivy); Pomladna noč (Spring Night); Mak žari (Poppy Glows); Božji volek (Ladybird); V spominsko knjigo (In a Memorial Book); Pomladni veter (Spring Breeze)
Jenko: Na tujih tleh (Abroad)
Lajovic: Mesec v izbi (My Fatherland); Kaj bi le gledal (Jamie Come Try Me); Serenada (Serenade)
Mašek, K: Pod oknom (Under the Window)
Pavčič: Dedek samonog (Grandpa Single-Leg); Uspavanka II (Lullaby No. 2); Ciciban; Cicifuj
Prelovec: Jesenska noč (Autumn Night)
Škerjanc: Jesenska Pesem (Autumn Song); Vizija (Vision); Večerna impresija (Evening Impression); Počitek pod goro (Moon over Mountain Pass); Pesem (Song); Beli oblaki (White Clouds)
— Steven Ritter