Dmitri Hvorostovsky sings of War, Peace, Love and Sorrow
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The incomparable Siberian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky - best known internationally for his Verdi roles - makes a powerful return to operatic masterpieces of his homeland. Leading this gripping album of Russian arias and scenes is Hvorostovsky's frequent collaborator, Constantine Orbelian.
We are treated to the vibrant opening scene from Prokofiev's War and Peace, as well as popular arias from Tchaikovsky's Mazeppa, Iolanta and Queen of Spades. We also get a seldom-heard rarity: virtually the entire final dramatic scene from Anton Rubinstein's The Demon.
Featured in the album's first and last selections is the new soprano sensation Asmik Grigorian, with whom Dmitri has shared the operatic stage in these roles in recent seasons. Further collaborators include other well-known Russian artists who appear here more briefly, as well as the vaunted State Academic Symphony Orchestra of Russia and the Helikon Opera Chorus.
"Whatever [Dmitri Hvorostovsky] sings here he seems to be fully inside the characters, and it is a pleasure to wallow in his unmistakable rounded tone, which is so perfect for Verdi but just as attractive in the repertoire of his native land." --MusicWeb International
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It is a beautiful all-Russian program with rarely heard arias and scenes, performed on the level of perfection. Little peace, much love, more sorrow.
The program is carefully selected and arranged, starting with the first scene of Prokofiev’s War and Peace and ending with the final scene of Rubinstein’s Demon. In between Tchaikovsky arias, very different from each other in character.
A wide range of characters and moods, young and old, happy and desperate, human and supernatural is summoned to our ears and imagination. Dmitri Hvorostovsky has an exceptional sensibility to the text, to the contents he is singing about. He can act even „audio-only”, his mellifluous bronze voice and expressive power turn notes and melody lines into well-defined characters and deeply felt emotions. One would think that the meditative mood of Prince Andrei’s aria embedded in Prokofiev’s wonderful woodland music (War and Peace), or the dark glow of Mazepa’s burning passion (Mazepa) suit his beautifully matured voice best - but then, he continues with Count Robert’s youthful outburst of love (Iolanta)! His voice flies and shines bright, his vitality and joy of life are irresistible. Not to mention Tomsky’s sarcasm in the sinister ballad, in which a Countess trades her love for the secret of the fatal three cards… O Bozhe! (Pique Dame) Tomsky’s next song with its playful eroticism is a short rest before the crown jewel, the final scene of Demon. Unearthly love after variations of earthly passion. In the opera, it is the final scene in which the Demon’s soul opens up in full complexity. The scene starts with the Demon’s aria (in the opera, his third romance), then it develops into a fantastic baritone-soprano duet wandering between heaven and hell, until the Demon wins Tamara’s love … and loses her forever. Asmik Grigorian’s crystal soprano lives up to Hvorostovsky’s regal and powerful, anguished and loving Demon, and she is a lovely Natasha, too, in the War and Peace scene. The young contertenor Vadim Volkov’s voice sounds properly angelic.
I love the black-and-white coverpic of the booklet, it shows Hvorostovsky serious, concentrating – a work in progress moment.The booklet is very informative, it contains also the English translation of the texts. So… do not be scared that it is all in Russian (analogically: I do not think that all the lovers of Italian opera speak fluent Italian…). If you know these operas, it will be a delight to hear them in such a masterful performance. If not, you may end up wishing to hear more of them - and you certainly end up wishing to hear more of Dmitri Hvorostovsky.