Russia is known to be rich with many of glorious bass singers. But a rare bass singer reaches the highest point of vocal art and gains theworld fame, not starring at the opera stage, but only performing chamber music and large-scale works.
The art of Anatoly Safiulin combines his individual voice timbre with the natural gift and the big experience of a musician. His superb vocal mastery, his fascinating dramatic instinct and the stunning ability to transmit the fineness of different musical styles is incomparable. One may say that the artistic personality of Mr. Safiulin is created by music itself – by Russian folk songs and romances; original chamber music programs of Russian and Western composers’ works and by large-scale compositions as masses, requiems, cantatas, oratorios and symphonies. He is considered to be the true Russian singer of European culture. Whatever the music is, Mr. Safiulin enjoys the auditorium with the profundity of his soul, his intellect and inimitable character.
Anatoly Safiulin was born in Moscow. In 1977 he graduated from the Russia Academy of Music, where he studied the solo singing under professor G. Aden, one of the most celebrated Russian vocal teachers, who had trained himself in Italy. Professor G.Aden revealed to his student the secrets of vocal art, holding the natural beauty of the voice. Throughout many years Mr. Safiulin was being a soloist of The Moscow State Philharmonics. He has the honorary title of the People’s artist of Russia. Since 2002 he has been living in Germany. Mr.Safiulin is convinced that a singer may prolong his artistic life by means of teaching young artists; therefore he has been practicing pedagogical activities.
Anatoly Safiulin is a guest soloist at many prestigious music festivals. To quote just some examples: The Russian Winter and The Moscow Stars in Moscow, The White Nights of St. Petersburg, The Edinburgh Festival, The Prague Spring, All the World Stars in Verbier, The Bilbao Festival. Hommages to Shostakovitch in Germany and Switzerland, The Festival of Russian Music in Stockholm, The Kiev Autumn, The Bratislava Autumn, The Bela Bartok Festival of contemporary Music in Hungary, festivals of Russia music in Italy, France, Austria, Japan, festivals of church music, etc. He has been touring intensively all around Russia and performing in London, Paris, Rome, Milan, Florence, Vienna, Cologne, Hamburg, Munich, Glasgow, Geneva, Chicago, New-York, Montreal, Ottawa, Tokyo, Istanbul, Tel-Aviv, Singapore etc.
In London Mr. Safiulin appeared in the role of Salieri for the first time since great Shalyapin had performing it. That was the semi-performance of Rimsky-Korsakov’s opera Mozart and Salieri at the Royal Festival Hall. Princess Diana, who honoured the concert with her presence, gave the singer an audience expressing her gratitude.
During the last decade the bass performed hundreds of large-scale works with the orchestra: requiems by Cimarosa, Mozart, Verdi, Dvorak, Brahms, Faure, Britten; masses by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Schubert; cantatas by Bach, Honegger, Shoenberg, Rachmaninov, Prokofiev, Schnittke, Schedrin; symphonies by Mahler, Shostakovitch, Lazarev.
The top of Mr. Safiulin artistry is chamber music. It’s impossible to count his original programs. With great ardour he promotes the new music of his compatriots. Many composers of XX century, such as Georgy Sviridov, Edison Denisov, Sofia Gubaidulina, Yuri Levitin, etc, entrusted him the first public performances of their music. Quite many works have been dedicated to the bass. The magazine “Sovetskaya muzyka” defined him very precisely as “a devoted knight of modern music”. There is no problem for Mr.Safiulin in the level of difficulty of a new work or in the term to get it ready to perform. He considers, that “the more difficult is the work, the more interesting is to know the result”
Such well-known pianists as Nikolay Demidenko, Victoria Postnikova, Igor Hudoley, Alexandre Bahchiev and organists Oleg Yanchenko, Olgerts Cintins were among the concertmasters of Mr. Safiulin.
Mr.Safiulin collaborated with more than 150 conductors, for example with such outstanding maestros as Igor Markevich, Vladimir Fedoseyev, Evgeny Svetlanov, Kurt Masur, Gennady Rizhdestvensky, Valry Gergiev,Saulius Sondeckis, Yehudi Menuhin, Arvids Yansons, Mariss Yansons, Krzystof Penderecky, Mikhail Pletniov, Liana Isaakadze, Dzhansug Kahidze…
The singer has recorded more than 25 CDs.
Mr. Safiulin’s relations with Latvia have had the long history. He performed in Riga for the first time in 1981 taking part in Verdi’s Requiem with Galina Kovalyova, Irina Arkhipova, Karlis Zarins (Arvid Yansons conducted). He was the frequent guest soloist at the concerts of the State Academic Choir “Latvia”. In 2003 he sang the bass solo in the performance of the 14th Symphony by Shostakovitch with the Chamber Orchestra Kremerata Baltica(artistic director Gidon Kremer) in Germany and Italy.
Since 1997 Mr. Safiulin has been working with Inna Davidova. The first concert of the Hermanis Braun Foundation took place in 1998, February the 13th. That was the solo concert of Mr. Safiulin. Every concert program Inna and Anatoly come up with is inimitable. Their debut program Romances of Glinka and Rachmaninov was followed by Tribute to Shaliapin, Romances of Russian Composers based on the poems of Poushkin, Don Quichot and Mephistopheles, The Ancient Russian Romances and Romances by Taneyev and Arensky. The duo of Mr. Safiulin and Ms. Davidova was performing in Riga, Moscow and Israel.
In the Mirror of the Press
“One would be hard pressed to find, not only on our own concert platforms, but on those of the whole of Europe, an artist who comes across so intelligently. I mean his irreproachable artistic taste, his intellectual power and noble sentiments… In this respect, it would not be wrong to compare him with, for example, Dietrich Ficher-Dieskau or Peter Pears”
Sovetskaya Muzyka, Moscow
“One cannot fail, right from the beginning, to hold Anatoly Safiulin in the highest esteem, as his merits deserve. The tone of his voice is splendid, his high notes brilliant. We hear one of those voices, which fluctuate between baritone and lyric bass. The tonal palette of this singer is extremely wide – he is heroic in Russian’s Cavatina; his monologue and hallucinations as Boris are charged with emotion and penetrating, his Shchaklovity’s aria is full of haughtiness”.
“I should like to talk about the solo part taken by A.Safiulin in Shostakovitch’s 13th Symphony. I have long been watching this singer and am now surprised with the speed with he has matured into a great artist. In addition to the beauty of his voice, the amazing naturalness of his diction make his singing a pleasure to listen to A.Safiulin, fortunately, has no affected declamation or artificial manners in performance, which one so often encounters in singers. For me, this was the first time that the vocal part of the 13th Symphony really corresponded to the great truth of Shostakovitch’s music…”
Sovetskaya Kultura, Moscow
“The bass A Safiulin is a typical Russian bass with a powerful lower register. But the voice doesn’t drone; it has amazing sharp definition. The singer appeals doth with his deep musicality and with the intensity of his creative power”.
Duisburger Kulturspiegel, Duisburg, Germany
“The Russian soloists were remarkably convincing in their interpretation. Owing to their first-rate technique, so skillfully exploited, both M.Kasrashvili and A.Safiulin were able, on this occasion (Shostakovitch’s 14th Symphony), to demonstrate, without effort, the highest concentration of expression. They have truly become notable exponents of the power of musical expression”.