This wonderful review of Dimitri Hvorostovsky’s Pushkin Romances comes from Amazon.com.
This review is from: Pushkin Romances – featuring Dmitri Hvorostovsky (Audio CD)
That Dmitri Hvorostovsky is one of the most talented and admired singers before the public is beyond doubt. His star status is assured. He came to prominence in his twenties as winner of the Cardiff BBC Singer of the World Contest in 1989, edging out Bryn Terfel. Since then he has sung at all the major opera houses and concert halls. He is a noted recitalist and in this disc he sings romances from the whole range of Russian composers, from Glinka to Sviridov, all of them settings of the poetry of that greatest of all Russian poets, Alexander Pushkin.
Mikhail Glinka is represented by his most famous song, the plaintive ‘I Recall a Wonderful Moment’ (‘Ja pomnu chudnoe mgnovenie’) and three others, including the ballad ‘The Night Zephyr’ (‘Nochnoi Zefir’) with its naive Spanish rhythms, which would sound hokey except when one remembers that when this romance was written Spanish color was brand-new in Russian music. Alexander Dargomyzhsky’s ‘The Youth and the Maiden’ (‘Yunosha i deva’) has an aching, arching melody overlying a simple and effective piano accompaniment. Alexander Borodin is represented by one song, ‘For the Shores of Thy Far Native Land’ (‘Diya beregov otchizny dal’noj’), a touching lament for a dead lover. Hvorostovsky is particularly effective in this song; just listen to his marvelous legato at the song’s emotional climax at the words ‘Your beauty and your sufferings both/Disappeared in the grave urn …’.
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s two songs include one on a poem written by Pushkin when he was in forced exile in southern Russia, ‘On the Hills of Georgia’ (‘Na kholmakh Gruziji lezhit nochnaja mgla’), a meditation on absent love. Cesar Cui’s most loved song, ‘I Loved You…’ (‘Ya vas ljubli…’), is sung with touching tenderness. Tchaikovsky is represented by only one song — he only wrote two to texts of Pushkin — ‘Nightingale’ (‘Solovej’) in which a young man laments the loss of his only love and begs to die. Is there any song more Russian than this one? The thread of sadness, of lost love, of resigned acceptance of one’s fate is never more present than in this one, sung gloriously by Hvorostovsky (and, need it be said, accompanied with grace and drama by pianist Ivari Ilja).
The disc is rounded out with songs by Nikolai Medtner, including the lovely ‘The Dreamer’ (‘Mechtatelu’), Alexander Vlasov’s exotic ‘To the Fountain of Bakhchiserai Palace’ (‘Fontanu Bakhchisarajskogo dvortsa’), Rachmaninoff’s ‘Don’t Sing for Me, Fair Maiden’ (‘Ne poi, krasavitsa, pri mne’) and Georgi Sviridov’s ‘The Crimson Forest Sheds its Attire’ (‘Roniayet les bagrianiy svoi ubor’) a sad drinking song about loneliness.
Hvorostovsky is in fine form here. There are rare divagations from true pitch, usually when the voice is under pressure of emotion, but the richness and allure of the voice are ever-present. My only concern is that the despairing, romantic texts taken all at once might give rise to lugubrious thoughts. Two or three at a time is my prescription. But what musical delights await the listener!