on 3 April 2010
Recorded in 1990 this was, I think, the first disc Dmitri Hvorostovsky issued in the West. It came pretty quickly on the heels of his win at the Cardiff Singer of the World competition in 1989.
It is clearly the voice of a young man, 27 at the time, fresh, vibrant, exciting, and surprisingly self-assured. It demonstrates very clearly why he won the competition the previous year and why so many people were bowled over by his performance. His breath control was (and still is) quite fantastic, best displayed in the `Io morro' from `Don Carlo' and the beautifully sustained long note at the end of Yeletsky's aria from `Pique Dame'. Intonation is usually assured, although there is the occasional slightly sharp note when under pressure. Listening to this recording now, nearly twenty years since first hearing it, I am surprised at the strength of the vibrato which appears on some sustained notes, something which he removed (or dispensed with) some time ago.
The selection of arias by Tchaikovsky and Verdi includes many popular favourites taken from roles which he has since sung with great success in opera houses all around the world. For some of them, notably `La traviata' and `Luisa Miller' the voice does not quite have the maturity, the fullness of tone, which the role and the music demand. They are sung nevertheless with passion and conviction. But, in my view, he is at his best here in the `young' roles - Rodrigo from `Don Carlo', Yeletsky, and Eugene Onegin.
The orchestra is the Rotterdam Philharmonic performing competently under the capable baton of the perceptive Valery Gergiev, who knows when to support the young singer and when to give him `room'.
This not a perfect recording, hence the four-star rating, but it is an important element in the discography of a rising star. No one with an interest in opera singing at the end of the twentieth century should be without it.
on 7 July 2014
Hvorostovky is a a great artist, and this is a very good cd, except for il balen from il trovatore: he tries singing two phrases with one breath, resulting in the voice sounding very strained towards the end of the phrase; he then loudly takes a breath, and snatches at the beginning of the next phrase- exhausting for the singer as well as the listener.
But- as I say- a great cd, well worth buying.