Rachmaninoff, Romances, D. Hvorostovsky, I. Ilja
G. Sviridov, Petersburg: A Vocal Poem, D. Hvorostovsky, M. Arkadiev (Delos, 2004)
My usual dislike of most instrumental music by Rachmaninoff does not apply to that composer's operas and songs, where perhaps the texts he chose excuse the tendency toward harmonic and melodic schmaltz. The first half of that composer's brooding songs, most of which Hvorostovsky has recently recorded with the same pianist featured here, Ivari Ilja, was potentially stultifying: slow and somber song after slow and somber song, with little variation. Both pianist and singer took their time to let each song unfold, stretching the tempo to set the words in place and craft each shape, the molasses-like gooeyness of the rubato giving the right air of tragic longing and regret. Highlights were the dramatic crescendo at the end of In my soul and the soul-permeating melancholy of Sad Night, as well as the finely turned simplicity of How nice this place is and the shimmering piano part of Lilacs. At times one felt the dramatic leanings of this singer, who is a creature of the stage, straining against the demands of the song recital, like an actor trying to emote rather than just recite poetry.
Anne Midgette, Difficulties of material, venue don't stop Hvorostovsky (Washington Post, March 22)
Wynne Delacoma, Hvorostovsky returns to Miami, for what may be Drucker’s last stand (South Florida Classical Review, March 20)
Tim Smith, Baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky to give recital for Washington Performing Arts Society (Baltimore Sun, March 18)