Dutch soprano Channa Malkin releases her new album This Is Not A Lullaby on the TRPTK music label on May 7, 2021. Joined by cellist Maya Fridman and pianist Artem Belogurov, the album featuring song cycles which present her intimately personal perspective on motherhood with music by 20th and 21st century composers Mieczysław Weinberg, Sir John Tavener, and her father Josef Malkin.
Her choice of program is bound together by the all-Russian text (Malkin’s mother tongue), family ties and cultural heritage through her father’s and Weinberg’s songs, and the distinctly female voice coming through the text in all three works with the poetry of leading writers including Gabriela Mistral and Anna Akhmatova set to music by Weinberg, Tavener and Josef Malkin.
Channa Malkin said, “Becoming a mother has changed me in more ways than I can put into words. During the coronavirus pandemic, it has been a blessing to work on this highly personal project inspired by my son Ezra.”
Channa Malkin is a singer known for her broad repertoire, from Italian baroque opera to Sephardic chamber music. She is a recent nominee of the Grachtenfestival Prize 2020 and debuted at the age of 17 as Barbarina (Le nozze di Figaro) at the Dutch National Opera. She has since performed on the operatic and concert stages and in song recitals across Europe and the United States.
Described as an artist who “channels her unbridled creativity into socially engaged and highly personal programs” (Aart-Jan van de Pol, jury member Grachtenfestival Prize), Channa Malkin holds up an alternative but genuine experience of motherhood and womanhood in this album, going against the archetypal and one-dimensional trope of a mother rocking her child to sleep with soothing lullabies.
Mieczysław Weinberg (1919 – 1996) was a Polish-born Soviet composer whose prodigious and influential output has only in recent years gained the recognition it deserves. His song cycle for soprano and piano, Rocking the child, a later work composed in 1973, uses the text of Nobel Prize- winning Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral from her book Ternura (Tenderness, 1924) in Russian translation. As a father to two daughters, Weinberg could relate to the mother’s and caregiver’s emotional world evoked in many of the eleven songs, while also understanding through first-hand experience of displacement through war and persecution how to enter the world of children who are isolated and have no mothers for others in the cycle. It is the particularly honest portrayal of what it means to be a mother who drew Malkin to this work during a sleepless night following the birth of her son, as well as the opportunity to highlight and pass on the underperformed vocal music of a composer who shares much of the cultural heritage of her own family.
Channa Malkin’s father, Josef Malkin, was born in Georgia in 1950 before spending time in Moscow, Israel, and the Netherlands. He spent twenty-five years of his career as a violinist in the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, turning to composition in 2004 with his song cycle Black Flowers which has been performed internationally. Alongside numerous instrumental chamber pieces, Malkin’s vocal repertoire includes works in Dutch, Hebrew, English, and Russian which have always been inspired by Channa’s voice and are often premiered by her. Five Russian Songs for soprano and piano was composed for Channa using poetry by a diverse range of authors along the themes of childhood and mortality, with poetry by the iconic Russian poet Anna Akhmatova (1889-1966), Jewish-Crimean poet Ilya Selvinsky (1899-1968), ‘forgotten generation’ Soviet Boris Ryzhy (1974- 2001) and contemporary Amsterdam-based poet Vladimir Riabokon-Ribeaupierre (1957-). Premiered in August 2020 at the Grachtenfestival and published recently as part of a larger collection of twelve songs, this will be the world premiere recording of the song cycle.
Sir John Tavener (1944-2013) was one of the leading British contemporary composers of his generation. Known for his religious works, he gained worldwide recognition for pieces such as The Protecting Veil, Song for Athene, and The Lamb. Through explorations of Russian and Greek culture in later life, Tavener was inspired by fragments of poetry by the Russian poet Anna Akhmatova to write Akhmatova Songs for soprano and cello, embracing elements of mysticism in his creation. While this is the least literal portrayal of motherhood in Malkin’s program, Akhmatova Songs poses a confrontation with mortality that being a mother can stimulate. According to Channa, it highlights how the identity of the multifaceted woman that exists behind every mother is threatened by motherhood itself but can be reclaimed.
Recorded in December 2020 in the main hall of the Philharmonie Haarlem, this album highlights the quality of sound achieved by the young TRPTK label. Founded in 2014 by producer Brendon Heinst, the label is known for its sonic immersion through perfect spatial and timbral fidelity using Multichannel recording processes and its celebration of ‘liveness’.
Channa Malkin’s “profound storytelling” with her programming, combined with the immersive quality of the TRPTK label, has served to create a unique album underlining her artistic values and bringing to light both familiar and unknown works through the lens of a mother, woman, and musician.
Channa Malkin – Soprano
Artem Belogurov – Piano
Maya Fridman – Cello
Total time: 00:57:19
Ben van Leliveld, AcousticMatters
|Analog to Digital Converters||
Hapi & Anubis, Merging Technologies
Furutech custom microphone cables, Furutech custom balanced interlinks, Furutech custom power cables, Furutech custom loudspeaker cables
KEF LS50 Meta loudspeakers, Hegel C55 five-channel amplifier
Grimm Audio CC2 at 352.8 kHz
KEF Blade Two loudspeakers, Hegel H30 amplifiers
DPA d:dicate 4006A, DPA d:dicate 4015A, Sony C100
JCAT Optimo 3 Duo linear power supply, JCAT NET Card XE, JCAT M12 Switch Gold, Furutech e-TP609E NCF, Furutech NCF Boosters, R.T.F.S. acoustics modules
Artem Belogurov performs on a Steinway Model D Concert Grand. Maya Fridman performs on a cello built by Serge Stam.
|Original Recording Format|
Furutech Daytona 303E, CAD Ground Control GC1
Brendon Heinst, Hans Erblich (Assistant Engineer)
This album was recorded between December 1st and 4th, at De Philharmonie, Grote Zaal in Haarlem, The Netherlands.
|Release Date||May 7, 2021|
With the motto This Is Not A Lullaby Channa Malkin emphasizes that motherhood is much more than a lullaby: “With my new album I want to tell the real story, instead of the ideal image of the almost holy mother.” It fits in a trend in which the classical song recital becomes a personal document in which the singer (es) makes something clear about their own life. When Malkin had a son, her life changed completely. She expresses that world of contradictions – love and joy next to fear, worry and broken nights as experienced by young parents – by choosing songs that most reflect that for her. It is obvious that you also write the liner notes yourself to interweave repertoire and personal experience.
This new album was made possible thanks to crowdfunding, whereby the lockdown did not make things any easier. But on a small label like TRPTK you can get the chance for greater artistic freedom than with the traditional record companies as they used to work.
Channa Malkin’s father is Josef Malkin, second violinist in the Concertgebouw Orchestra and composer. It is special to hear from his daughter how the father interprets parenthood. His five Russian songs, based on poems by Ilya Selvinsky, Vladimir Riabokon-Ribeaupierre and Boris Ryzhy, depart from the atmosphere of Musorgsky’s Nursery, but become increasingly oppressive. With Akhmatova ‘s decidedly ominous Lullaby, you will understand what the title of this album is all about.
Anna Akhmatova is also related to the third collection: Russian songs by Sir John Tavener. Motherhood has been abandoned as a theme here, with the motivation that a mother also has the right to do something different. The main topic is exile, related to Dante, Pushkin, Lermontov, Pasternak and finally the inevitability of death. Artem Belogurov’s piano has been replaced by Maya Fridman’s cello. The music is bare and sober, but much more concise and expressive than the weak ethereal mysticism that has become Tavener’s trademark. So, he could do it … you almost think …
Channa Malkin has delivered a beautiful album with a well thought out, intelligent program. Her approach is felt, her voice sounds young and fresh, especially in the middle register where she clearly feels most at home. Also pay tribute to the alert pianist Belogurov and the sonorous cellist Fridman, who speak the same language as the singer. The recording is to put through a ring, has warmth and is good in the room.
Art Muse London
With her latest recording, This Is Not A Lullaby, Dutch soprano, Channa Malkin, explores motherhood. On her album photograph, she perches on a high stool, in a beige baggy sweater, leaving her legs bare. Malkin, a new mother herself, is challenging the almost unshakeable image of the idealized mother and child, which requires women to be pure, selfless, sexless creatures. There is no baby in this photograph, but Malkin has tellingly dedicated her record to her son, Ezra.
Though the music is at times painfully dark, it is seductively beautiful. Malkin has just the right voice for this dramatic, highly emotive repertoire. Her vibrant, expressive vocals have extensive range and color which makes this soprano the perfect storyteller.
This is a beautifully produced album and there is no doubt that Malkin is a soprano to watch out for when the concert halls open up again. Her supporting musicians, Maya Fridman on cello and Artem Belogurov on piano, also do her proud.
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