La Scena Musicale

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

To Russia with Love

Dmitri Hvorostovsky, baritone
Moscow Chamber Orchestra; Style of Five Folk Ensemble / Constantine Orbelian
Delos DV 7005
***** $$$$
Recorded live in St. Petersburg, Russia on September 15, 2006, this DVD consists of a program of Russian folk and contemporary songs which Dmitri Hvorostovsky has since taken on tour all over the world, including a concert in Toronto last season. To my eyes and ears, Hvorostovsky is the most significant baritone today, pace Bryn Terfel and a number of other wonderful singers. Others may have a more varied repertoire or an even more powerful stage persona, but none can beat the Siberian for his resplendent quality of tone and rock-solid technique with its amazingly long breath line. When DH came to Toronto’s Roy Thomson Hall, the audience was heavily Russian, and as in this video, the singer was offered bouquets galore from his adoring female fans. The soulful romances on the program were archetypically Russian, pretty much all written in the minor key, on the joys and pains of love and love lost. The baritone was his usual spectacular self, offering up volleys of refulgent tone. In no time the audience was eating out of his hand. If one were to nitpick, there was a stylistic sameness to it all – experiencing them in a single sitting is like eating a whole box of marzipan. Leading the Moscow Chamber Orchestra was DH’s frequent collaborator and conductor of choice, Constantine Orbelian. The Style of Five Folk Ensemble contributed several terrific instrumental arrangements of folk tunes, allowing the baritone brief rests between numbers. Three encores were given, including “O Sole Mio”, and of course the obligatory “Dark Eyes”, a showstopper that is indelibly linked to Hvorostovsky. His fans will want it all, as will any lover of great singing.


- Joseph K. So

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