ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Dmitri Hvorostovsky
WORKS: Songs and Dances of Death
PERFORMER: Dmitri Hvorostovsky (baritone)Kirov Orchestra/Valery Gergiev
CATALOGUE NO: 438 872-2 DDD
Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Cardiff Singer of the World in 1989 and the title artist in the recently released Philips recording of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, makes an unusual and welcome programme selection here. In their original scoring for voice and piano, Mussorgsky’s four Songs and Dances of Death almost burst their bounds, and Shostakovich’s orchestration of the accompaniments brings the music up to life-size. (It does no harm that the last song is transposed down.) The sinister stories are perfectly caught in Hvorostovsky’s expressively varied and strongly sustained line. Once again Gergiev is a fully sympathetic conductor.
Russian opera provides the other ten items, with a valued rarity in excerpts from The Demon and Nero, both by Anton Rubinstein (1829-94). In arias by Borodin (from Prince Igor) and by Rimsky-Korsakov (from Sadko, The Tsar’s Bride, Snow Maiden and Kashchey the Immortal} there is an occasional slight forcing of the voice and some intrusive intakes of breath, but the avowal of jealousy from Rachmaninov’s Aleko is superbly rendered. Translations and Russian text (in a weird transliteration) are provided. Arthur Jacobs