Sound Quality: 4.5/5
Dmitri Hvorostovsky’s Pushkin Romances can be seen as a companion to his 2009 Delos release, Tchaikovsky Romances, which also features pianist Ivari Ilja. A remarkably versatile poet, Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837) provided the source material for the vast majority of significant nineteenth century Russian operas, including Glinka’s Ruslan and Ludmila, Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov, Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin and The Queen of Spades, and Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Golden Cockerel, as well as texts that have served as the basis for hundreds of song settings. The 17 songs Hvorotovsky sings here are the work of ten composers and span nearly a century, from the mid-1830s to the mid-1930s. Most of the major nineteenth century Russian composers have works included, except for Mussorgsky, and the twentieth century is represented by Nicolai Medtner and the more obscure Alexander Vlasov and Georgiy Sviridov. The songs are warmly Romantic and unabashedly expressive, and those by Rimsky Korsakov, Cui, Medtner, and Rachmaninov are especially attractive and memorable. With his large, dramatic baritone, interpretive sensitivity, and long familiarity with these songs, Hvorotovsky is the ideal interpreter for this passionate repertoire. If there is any critique of the album, it’s that, with a few exceptions, the songs tend to be on emotional overdrive, and taken all together they can be a little overwhelming, particularly when Hvorostovsky brings to them the expressive heat and fervor they call for. Pianist Ilja likewise pulls out all the stops and plays with dramatic intensity. Listeners might appreciate the recital best when it is taken in several smaller portions. Delos’ sound is clean, warmly ambient, and very present.
Purchase Dmtiri Hvorostovsky’s latest release “Pushkin Romances” from DelosMusic.com