Tchaikovsky: Romances

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Tchaikovsky
WORKS: Romances: None but the Lonely Heart; My Genius, My Angel, My Friend; I Bless You, Forests; Don Juan’s Serenade etc
PERFORMER: Dmitri Hvorostovsky (baritone), Ivari Ilja (piano)

 Nearly 20 years have elapsed since Dmitri Hvorostovsky first recorded Tchaikovsky songs for Philips, with vine leaves in his hair fresh from winning the Cardiff Singer of the World Competition. Comparing his ‘None but the Lonely Heart’ then with the one just set down here for Delos, it’s remarkable how little the voice, a little larger than life in Delos’s close sound, has aged; if anything, the dark, full vibrato is even more under control at the very top of the register. Alongside the same ineffable legato, there’s more pointing of the words and more inwardness in softer dynamics.
Hvorostovsky has added many of the more unconventional Tchaikovsky songs to his repertoire since that first recital disc. Two which I had never consciously heard before launch the second of these
two short CDs: the Lermontov setting ‘The Love of a Dead Man’, to which Hvorostovsky rises heroically, and ‘On the Golden Cornfields’ by Alexy Tolstoy.
Inevitably there’s a preponderance of dark numbers; so all the more credit to this now truly great baritone for pushing the emotion with apparent sincerity and no self pity; ‘To Forget so Soon’ reaches remarkable dramatic heights. Even if Hvorostovsky perhaps deserves a piano virtuoso with more colours in his palette than Ivari Ilja – Trpceski, Melnikov or Hayroudinoff would be ideal equals – the Estonian manages the lighter touches well. David Nice