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The 24 songs spread over 2 CDs in an 83 minute program include the two bestknown of Tchaikovsky's romances, the soulful "None but the Lonely Heart" (Mey, after Goethe) and the fresh and inspiring wanderer's song "I Bless You, Forests" (Aleksei Tolstoy). But other romances in the program show Tchaikovsky just as adept in establishing, and then intensifying, the basic mood of the song so to make the more enduring impression. There is sadness, yearning, fatalism, despair, longing to recapture past happiness and resignation to one's fate in such jewels as "The Fearful Moment" (Anon), where a lover awaits his beloved's answer to his declaration of love, and "The Love of a Dead Man" (Lermontov): " What do I care about God's shining kingdom / His exalted paradise? / I brought my human passions with me / I treasure a dear dream / Just the same; / I desire, weep, envy / Just as in the past."
In other songs, the emotion is more understated, as in "Dusk Fell on the Earth" (Berg): "A lily, awake in its radiant beauty / In its sparkling clothing, smiles kindly, / And greats the heavens / With a cheerful wave to the lake. / But I am full of sadness." "Does the Day Reign" (Apuktin) is filled with a lover's brimming joy: "Whether my life is long or short, / I know that, until I die, / All I do, All for which I give thanks / All is from you!" Here, as in the powerful upsurge of grief and anxiety in "Not A Word, O My Friend" (Pleschcheyev) and "Why?" (Mey, after Heine), Ilja's firm, sure accompaniment reinforces the changing mood of a song or carries it on beyond the final poetic stanza: "Tell me, my heart's beloved, / Why have you deserted me?" -- Audio Video Club of Atlanta, Phil Muse, November 2009
Taking a break from his increasingly ambitious pursuit of demanding Italian roles such as Verdi's di Luna and Simon Boccanegra, Dmitri Hvorostovsky returns to a form long central to his art -- the Russian romans (art song). With Estonian-born pianist Ivari Ilja, the baritone presents two dozen songs by Tchaikovsky, one of the greatest masters of the genre.
The form and idiom suit Hvorostovsky admirably. I heard him sing some of these Tchaikovsky romansy at a Leningrad Philharmonic Hall recital in 1989, the year he won the Cardiff "Singer of the World" competition that catapulted him to fame. At that time, most of his countrymen had no clue who this handsome Siberian with the splendid, dark lyric baritone and admirable (if rather audible) breath control was; but they, and I, were duly impressed. Hvorostovsky recorded six of the most famous of these songs on a fine 1991 Tchaikovsky/Rachmaninoff recital for Philips with Oleg Boshniakovich, plus "My genius, my angel, my friend" (to a text by Afanasy Fet, one of the few first-rate poets represented here) on a 1995 collaboration with Mikhail Arkadiev, My Restless Soul. He and Ilja performed many of them touring in recital last season. Hvorostovsky's older-sounding but still exceptionally beautiful instrument and Ilja's elegant pianism strike a good balance.
Hvorostovsky's musicianship and sound have matured well, and these discs are most welcome for that. Though the texts are pronounced with clarity and understanding, he has never been and for the most part still is not the kind of song interpreter who digs deeply into text and illuminates shades of meaning within a single line. (For that, one would turn to the records of his idol, Pavel Lisitsian.) But there's a sense of feeling and connection in Hvorostovsky's marbled tone, and some performances here, including the Fet settings, transcend a generalized level of "anguish" or "nostalgia." None is less than a pleasure to hear. The selection inherently encompasses a considerable variety of mood; one relative rarity is the despairing, almost Mussorgskian "Love of a Dead Man," to a Lermontov text.
Delos's booklet offers a thoughtful, informative background essay by Maya Pritsker, as well as English translations, but non-specialists should realize that the five texts here attributed to "Tolstoy" are by Aleksei Konstantinovich Tolstoy (1817-75) and not by the author of Anna Karenina. Delos doesn't even include transliterated versions of the originals -- a disservice to Hvorostovsky's legion Russian and russophone fans, though, as Pritsker notes, most educated Russians know most of these songs very well. This generous, beautifully vocalized collection should please them as well as newcomers sampling Tchaikovsky's outstanding lyric output. -- Opera News, David Shengold, December 2009
Hvorostovsky really has it all! Great looks, gorgeous baritone voice, and compelling stage presence. His voice also contains all of the sensual promise of his looks'Published 12 months ago by Jan Cambria
Let's put it this way, Dmitri Hvorostovsky is my favorite baritone. On this album he sings what may be my favorite baritone song: 6 Romances, Op. 38: No. 1. Read morePublished 14 months ago by SJ Reidhead