Hymns of Love
Tenor arias by Gounod, Bizet, Borodin, Puccini, Tchaikovsky, Lehár, Dvořák, et al
Dmytro Popov (tenor); Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin/Mikhail Simonyan
Orchid Classics ORC100148 55:41 mins
Hymns of Love, says the Ukrainian tenor Dmytro Popov in the booklet that accompanies his first solo recording is ‘a collection of love declarations … and other moments of elation that my characters experience.’
Passing swiftly over the thought that tenors scarcely sing about anything else in the opera house and that this may not be the most original first principle for building a programme, we arrive at the music. Or rather the voice. Popov often sounds more baritone than a tenor, almost readying himself for Otello you feel in Ponchielli’s ‘Cielo e mar’. Here and in ‘Recondita Armonia’ from Tosca the voice sits most comfortably in the middle and lower registers, and there’s more than a hint of falsetto when the young Ukrainian stretches for the top. But he is an ardent Des Grieux in Puccini’s Manon, and at his best in two Tchaikovsky arias that include Vaudémont’s magical ‘Romance, Nyet! Chary lask krasy myatezhnoy’ from Iolanta; while you ache with fellow feeling as this Prince declares his love for the water sprite in Dvořák’s Rusalka.
Elsewhere Popov’s French diction is murky and his vocal characterisation lacks nuance. And was it a wise idea to raise the ghost of the incomparable Richard Tauber in ‘Dein ist mein ganzes Herz’ from Lehár’s Land of Smiles? But then this is a ‘calling card’ disc from a tenor already admired on both sides of the Atlantic as Rodolfo and Alfredo who hopes to extend his stage repertoire. You may want to sit it out until Popov tackles the juicier Verdi roles.