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Sings of War, Peace, Love and Sorrow Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) War and Peace
Scene 1 Svetlaje vesenneje nebo (The radiance of the sky in spring) [11:47] Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Mazeppa
Mazeppa’s aria O Mariya, Mariya! (O Maria, Maria!) [5:27] Iolanta
Robert’s aria Kto mozhet sravnitsja s Matildoj moej (Who can compare with my Mathilde) [2:36] Queen of Spades
Tomsky’s ballad Odnazdy v Versale, au jeu de la Reine (One day at Versailles, at the jeu de la Reine) [5:42]
Tomsky’s song Yesli b milyye devitzy (If cute girls) [2:17] Anton RUBINSTEIN (1829-1894) The Demon
Scene 6 [26:03]
Dmitri Hvorostovsky (baritone)
Asmik Grigorian (soprano), Irina Shishkova (mezzo), Vadim Volkov (counter-tenor),
Igor Morozov (tenor), Mikhail Guzhov (bass)
Helikon Opera Chorus State Academic Symphony Orchestra of Russia “Evgeny Svetlanov”/Constantine Orbelian
rec. October 2015, Mosfilm Studios, Moscow
Sung texts with English translations enclosed DELOS DE3517 [53:53]
“The older I become, the closer I feel to Russia”, Dmitri Hvorostovsky said in an interview for The New York Times some years ago. Here he has chosen arias and scenes from some great Russian operas. Some of these roles he has never sung on stage, others he has never recorded before or long ago. Whatever he 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. As a matter of fact it is hard to believe that it is 27 years since he won the Cardiff “Singer of the World” competition and immediately became one of the most sought after singers all over the world. The voice is so well-preserved, so beautiful and so expressive.
Prokofiev’s War and Peace is one of the great epic masterpieces in the world of opera, and this scene finds the composer at his most romantic. Hvorostovsky’s Prince Andrei is here partnered with Asmik Grigorian’s Natasha and Irma Shiskova’s Sonya. They are both glorious singers and the two ladies soar so beautifully together in their duet.
Mazeppa is a role Hvorostovsky has not performed on stage, but who could believe that when hearing his truly magnificent reading of his love song. On the other hand he recorded the role of Robert in Iolanta under Gergiev as early as 1994, and 21 years later he is just as superb. Tomsky in Queen of Spades is a role new to him, but he recorded Yeletsky under Ozawa.
Though Anton Rubinstein’s The Demon was rather successful when it was new and received one hundred performances in the first decade after its premiere, it has failed to gain a real foothold in the west. Hearing now the long unbroken final scene makes me want to hear the complete work as well. The music is wonderfully atmospheric and in particular when Asmik Grigorian is such a wonderful foil to Hvorostovsky’s Demon. Asmik is daughter to the famous tenor Gegham Grigorian, who sadly died earlier this year. Having seen her as Cio-Cio-San in Madama Butterfly I do not doubt that here is an outstanding talent, as singer as well as actor. This comes over also from this recording. To the successful result of this issue I mustn’t forget to point out the excellent contributions of the Helikon Opera Chorus and the State Academic Symphony Orchestra of Russia under the inspirational Constantine Orbelian.
Of the many Dmitri Hvorostovsky recordings I have collected through the years the present one will have an honoured place on my shelves and I am sure it will in due time be one of my recordings of the year.