For his first CD release on Ondine, star baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky has chosen art song repertoire of great intensity and emotion from his Russian home country. The 26 romances by Sergei Rachmaninov on this disc include such popular songs as Spring waters, op.14/11 or In the silence of the mysterious night, op.4/3. Together with his longstanding duo partner, Estonian pianist Ivari Ilja, they have frequently performed many of these songs to great critical acclaim (Mr. Hvorostovsky used the infinite shadings of his luxuriously dark and dusky voice to illuminate the yearning nuances of bitterness and regret.  his admirable range of expressive and dynamic shadings [was] aptly mirrored by Ivari Ilja, an exemplary accompanist.. The New York Times, 5 April 2008). Dmitri Hvorostovsky is recognized as one of the leading and most charismatic baritones of our time, performing internationally at such opera houses as the New York Met, and partnering regularly with singers Renée Fleming and Jonas Kaufmann. Dmitri Hvorostovsky recently signed to Ondine. He has released numerous highly successful CD and DVD recordings on such labels as Deutsche Grammophon, Philips, and Delos.
This recording should come with the warning "too hot to handle", such is the combustible combination of Dmitri Hvorostovsky's heroic baritone with the flaming passion of intensely romantic Russian poetry. Rachmaninov wrote more than 80 settings, each a miniature drama and more often than not a story of heartbreak; put 26 of them together, as in this selection, and the listener is left quite drained but also lost in wonder at the beauty of the melodic line. Highlights include trademark Rachmaninov harmonies in "Do not believe me, my friend" and "Yesterday we met" and some virtuosic piano writing in "Spring Waters", played with elan by Hvorostovsky's longtime collaborator, Ivari Ilja. --Observer,05/02/12
Hvorostovsky's lyric baritone has darkened as he has moved from Mozartian aristos and Tchaikovsky's tormented young lovers to Verdian father figures, but it is now the ideal voice for these brooding songs of introspection and romantic disillusionment. An hour or more of this undeniably great music could be depressing, but Hvorostovsky, still in glorious voice and always to hear in his own language, sings in the Silence of the Mysterious Night with rapt concentration, She Is as beautiful as Noon with romantic exultation, and the songs of loss-How Much It Hurts, Everything I Had, Everything Passes-with a dark Russian despair. Ilja matches Hvorostovsky's heart-and-soul singing in his playing. --Sunday Times,05/02/12
The great Russian baritone has recorded many of these songs earlier in his career, but he returns to them here at the peak of his artistry and technique.The travails and tragedie of love dominate the subject matter creating a mood that is rarely les than melancholy, but such is Rachmaninov's inexhaustible gift for melody and Hvorotovsky's power and commitment, complemented by Ivari Ilja's tumultous pianism , that monotony is avoided and the overall effect of the recital is overwhelming.**** --Daily Telegraph,25/02/12
He is still a full-throated, virile baritone of great beauty, capable of dramatic declaration. --IRR,Mar'12
Hvorostovsky opens up these Rachmaninov songs with operatic fortissimos that add stature to the music as well as with pianissimos that convey depths of quiet terror, both of which were quite beyond the grasp of his younger self. --Gramophone,Apr'12