Z. Yang | Hockessin, DE USA | 05/27/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a concert Dmitri Hvorostovsky performed at Le Festival International de lanaudière in 1998. It opens with Mussorgsky's "Songs and Dances of Death", which are four dark and chilling songs that depict death as a character who sings and dances around the lives of his victims: a sickly baby (Lullaby); a fatally ill young woman (Serenade); a drunk peasant (Trepak); and soldiers in the war field (The Field Marshal). I've heard Hvorostovsky singing them on CD before, but seeing him performing in concert is transfixing! His lush, dark voice is made for these songs, and his delivery, with gripping theatrical sensitivity, would draw you into the dark scenes with him. Another major part of the program is dedicated to Verdi, with arias from "Un Ballo in Maschera", "Il Trovatore", and "Don Carlo" included. And what depth and refinement Hvorostovsky brings to Verdi's characters! "Eri tu" is a master delivery when all the fine elements of his voice - the dramatic expressiveness and the enchanting lyricism - are blended perfectly. In "O carlo, ascolta", Rodrigo's death scene from "Don Carlo", as he finishes the long verse of "Io morrò, ma lieto in core..." the second time with one breath, a slight plaintive choke can be sensed, which seems to be more spontaneous than tactical - it is truly a thrilling and heartfelt rendition that wins a standing ovation from the audience. At the end of the program Hvorostovsky dazzles the audience with "Largo al factotum" from Rossini's "Il barbiere di Siviglia". His rich, honey toned baritone, as sturdy as it can be, is also enviably flexible. It is a most brilliant "Largo al factotum" I've heard, and very fun to watch, too. The regret, if there were regret with the concert, would be that it's a bit short. The encore piece is Russian folk song "Dark Eyes", which, if you're already familiar with that wonderful version Hvorostovsky sang with authentic Russian traditional instruments accompaniment, may sound a bit mellow.
In the middle of the program, Orchestre symphonique de Montréal performs an orchestral piece - the last movement (The Pines of the Appian Way) of Respighi's "Pines of Rome", which is a wonderful dramatic piece that couples very well with the rest of the program. Charles Dutoit, whose conducting reminded me of the fluidity of Tai Chi, drives the music with strength as well as grace.
A Real Man's Concert
C. Dondiego | 05/21/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For those who prefer the dark timbre of lower voices, especially baritones, do not miss Dmitri Hvorostovsky who shines in this 1998 concert with Charles Dutoit conducting a brilliant Orchestra symphonique de Montréal. Hvorostovsky's voice is in full prime (now and then), and he excels in both the Russian and Italian repertory presented on this DVD.
His rendition of Mussorgsky's Songs and Dances of Death should not be missed for its rich, soulful passion and convincing interpretation, and he delivers a bravissimo performance of "Eri tu" from Un Ballo in Machera, conveying the ardor of Renato's conflicting emotions between love for Amelia and hate for Riccardo. Hvorostovsky performs other Verdi arias and a selection of traditional Russian songs with equal distinction, but his "Largo al factotum" is the perfect finale for its rousing virtuosity and endearing comic performance.
Mr. Hvorostovsky realizes his full talents onstage, both in concerts and operatic performances, and though he is radiant on his numerous recordings, he must be seen to be believed. As an old-timer, I point to Dmitri Hvorostovsky when aging opera fans claim "no one sings like that anymore," referring to vocal stars of previous generations. If his Lincoln Center concert with Reneé Fleming would be released on DVD, even those nostalgic for some imagined operatic "golden age" may realize that the operatic arts are alive and soaring.