Dinara Alieva (soprano), Olesya Petrova (mezzo-soprano), Francesco Meli (tenor), Dmitry Belosselskiy (bass); Bolshoi Theatre Chorus; St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra/Yuri Temirkanov
Delos DVD: DV 7012; Blu-ray: DV 7013 94:14 mins
This concert in the magnificent St Petersburg Philharmonia hall was given on 19 December 2017 in memory of Dmitri Hvorostovsky, who had died less than three weeks earlier. The picture is clear, the sound less so – soloists are well recorded but orchestra and chorus are lacking in detail. At 81, conductor Yuri Temirkanov secures a sensitively shaped and dignified rather than theatrical account. Tempos are steady, even at times slow, with the Sanctus lacking impetus and the Agnus Dei on the flabby side. Still, the orchestral playing is often thrilling, with a particularly secure brass section and a range of colours that includes the most subtle and delicate – something that applies equally to the Bolshoi Theater Chorus whose operatic style is entirely apt for this work.
The soloists form an even quartet, their finely coordinated singing featuring some wonderful duetting from Dinara Alieva’s soprano and Olesya Petrova’s mezzo. Alieva’s impassioned vocalism combines an emotional charge with keen stylistic instincts: fearless as well as accomplished, she launches herself into the Libera me with a focus on text and heightened expressive power. Petrova’s rich and powerful mezzo, meanwhile, matches her in sheer vocal command. Tenor Francesco Meli begins with a slight beat in the voice, but his tone gradually firms up to set him on course for an idiomatic and emotionally moving account, taking in a miraculously poised ‘Hostias’. Dmitry Belosselskiy’s resplendent bass is grandly sonorous, his deliberate underlining of text especially effective. Each of the soloists rises to the occasion as well as to their individual tasks, though in places more attention to Verdi’s markings would be welcome. There are no subtitles but the sung text and an English translation are contained in the booklet.