Saturday, 28 August 2010

Dmitri Hvorostovsky - Recital in Prague

Yesterday's recital of the starry baritone, accompanied by Ivari Ilja (the two have released two CDs and can be seen on many videos on YouTube), was without doubt one of the highlights of the very busy season. Hvorostovsky's intelligence of interpretation, depth of feeling, and indeed the sheer beauty of the voice, make him the interpret of this repertoire.

In the beginning it seemed to me that the singer was not in his best of moods - perhaps because of the cold he had, as he said on his Facebook. Not only no indisposition was noticeable, but the atmosphere in the hall was so wonderful that it even warmed up the singer, who seemed much more cheerful by the end. Also I've learnt from a source close to the performers that it was their last concert with this particular content, which might have added to the artists' feelings. The first half of the concert (Tchaikovsky) can be found in this playlist on my YouTube channel and at the bottom of this post, if indeed embedding works.

The program opened with my favourite Why?. Probably because it was the first song, it was a little bit inferior in expressiveness to its counterpart on the aforementioned CD, but that's normal, especially with sensitive performers; during the course of a couple of songs, the recital turned into an event that even Mr.Hvorostovsky can be proud of. The second half featured Medtner's expressive songs (three of them are on the Pushkin CD) and the evening closed with five songs by Rachmaninoff.

The only negative thing I can say is a marginal detail: in the second half of the recital Mr. Hvorostovsky, to my ears, overdid a couple of fortissimi a bit. It was awkward that there was just one encore, yet another art song. One would have thought that such an appreciative audience deserves better, but maybe Mr. Hvorostovsky was tired because of the cold.

Overall however, it was a very strong experience for both those who are familiar with this repertory and those who are not. Hvorostovsky's artistry almost hypnotized the audience. Even knowing these songs almost by heart from CDs, I often found myself completely lost within them, staring jaw-dropped at the singer. One couldn't not smile when he was singing the light Pimpinella or the Serenade Oh, Child. He naturally worked with the people, it almost seemed that he was singing the amorous parts to each woman in the audience. In dramatic or melancholic passages, 100% concentration could be seen in his face. All people I talked to agreed that they could be listening to this till the dawn. Mr. Ilja provided an ideal support. Not only is he an excellent pianist, but also is able to tune-in for the singer and co-ordinate with him - a quality that can't be taken for granted.

This is a playlist featuring the same Tchaikovsky songs at a different recital - this one took place at the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory and was aired in January 2010:

Photos from the concert, by Alice Bochňáková after the jump

One of the Czech reviews said that Mr.Hvorostovsky has a serious illness in the family, which could be the reason of the somewhat early departure. From the depth of our heart, we wish the person to get well soon!


  1. Thank you for the comment on my blog. Your blog is wonderful. I knew I know you from somewhere - aren't you some of regular comentators of Opera plus?
    Hvorostovsky was totally perfect. He sang perfect and he looked perfect. The best concert in my life.

  2. Thanks for the review - great to hear that it went so well :-))))