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Raymond Beegle
Fanfare, November 2012

Many singers of the day have beautiful voices and many of them are superb musicians, but very few seem to be truth-tellers. Dmitri Hvorostovsky sounds like he feels what he is singing about, and consequently, I feel it too. He is an artist who has grown over the years and one can’t help but think that he has also grown as a human being. This disc, recorded at the full bloom of his voice, is the highest mark he has reached, and it is very high indeed…Hvorostovsky can express his sentiment and vision without compromising the explicit wishes of the composer. The sentiments are profound and the vision expansive. © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review

Ralph Moore
MusicWeb International, May 2012

…his [Dmitri Hvorostovsky’s] baritone remains in remarkably fine shape. The bottom notes are dark and resonant, the middle only a little grainy when he sings mezza voce (as at the end of no.5) and the top G’s continue to ring out thrillingly with only a hint of a flap. Any signs of stress are, in any case, hardly inappropriate in music as desperately passionate as this.

…both singer and pianist interpret with such commitment and passion. My favourite items so far are the mounting ecstasy of the second song, “Do you remember, the evening?”, the haunting “She is as beautiful as the moon”, opening with strummed arpeggios reminiscent of Schubert’s “Dioskuren” and continuing with melismata in a distinctly Polovtsian minor mode, and “In the silence of the mysterious night” climaxing with a magnificent G-flat and a long-breathed piano D to conclude. I also love the dignified restraint of no.6, so Russian with its rolling underlay and punctuating chords, building to a great cry of pain.

The recording is perfect; there is a lovely balance between the singing tone of the piano and the singer’s sonorous baritone. Estonian pianist Ivari Ilja is Hvorostovsky’s regular accompanist and plays wonderfully, with agogic freedom, shaded nuance and great variety of colour. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Robert A Moore
American Record Guide, May 2012

Hvorostovsky and Ilja now turn to 26 songs of love, loss, and longing by Rachmaninoff with texts by Chekov, Tolstoy, Minsky, Tyutchev, and other Russian poets. The results are excellent once again.

With his dark intensity and commanding voice, Hvorostovsky can be the scariest of Scarpias; with his warmly caressing tone and superb breath control, he is also an accomplished singer of these Russian songs, attuning his immense operatic voice to these dramatic settings. Even if you don’t understand Russian, the doleful character of these songs comes across unmistakably. © 2012 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide online

David Patrick Stearns
Gramophone, April 2012

Hvorostovsky opens up these Rachmaninov songs with operatic fortissimos that add stature to the music as well as with pianissimos that can convey depths of quiet terror…[Hvorostovsky’s] long-admired breath control is…more impressive…this new recital are telling: the all-in-one-breath phrase that ends ‘In the silence of the mysterious night’ is now even longer, more firm and infused with meaning beyond words…

Hvorostovsky brings an almost evangelistic intensity to this one…This is as fine as any currently available single-disc collection of Rachmaninov songs. © 2012 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone

Blair Sanderson, April 2012

…Sergey Rachmaninov’s special aptitude for long-breathed melodies is evident in his intensely lyrical settings. Hvorostovsky’s rich and vibrant baritone lends emotional weight to the somber songs…He is accompanied sympathetically and with great restraint by pianist Ivari Ilja, and the two artists control the material with a simplicity of expression…there can be no doubt that it receives a first-rate performance here and benefits from the attention. Ondine’s sound is clear and naturally resonant, and Hvorostovsky has magnificent presence. © 2012 Read complete review

Michael Scott Rohan
BBC Music Magazine, April 2012

There is a sentimental streak in many of these songs…In fact, the verses Rachmaninov set display a wide range of moods, the more so as they span the core of his career, before and after his breakdown and revival. We shall rest, A dream and the transcendent bitterness of They said offer ample contrast, and Rachmaninov reflects it. The Russian doesn’t require or replay the Germanic, Fischer-Dieskau style of emphasis; but for all his famously silky tones and deep-brown vocal shading Hvorostovsky does shape the lines meaningfully, and his delivery suites these songs admirably, from the almost austere to the nostalgic, the passionate, and even, in It is time!, the grimly rousing. Likewise, Ivari Ilja clearly relishes Rachmaninov’s richly textures accompaniments, including the extraordinary lyrical shift and sparkle of Spring Floods…this is a fascinating recital… © 2012 BBC Music Magazine

Sarah Noble
Limelight, March 2012

Hvorostovsky’s…musicality is rock solid, and his dramatic sense as compelling on disc as it is on stage. Indeed, his delivery is so robust, and his voice so sonorous, that many of the songs seem to morph into miniature arias…Rachmaninov’s romances, whose poetry and illustrative piano parts (deftly dispatched here by Hvorostovsky’s frequent recital partner Ivari Ilja) are already quite operatic in scope, seem almost to demand it. The desperate agony of It is time!, the desolation of Yesterday We Met, and the pleas of Oh no, I beg you, do not leave! are all brought to compelling life, while the folkish simplicity of Oh you, my corn field and the rare optimism of Morning are also nicely managed…

It’s also interesting to hear Rachmaninov’s treatment of two poems very familiar to Lieder fans: Heine’s Du bist wie eine Blume and Hugo’s Comment, disaient-ils, both set in Russian translation…if you’re inclined to wallow, rage against the world, or just to hear some highly charged and thrilling singing, Hvorostovsky is the man for you. © 2012 Limelight Magazine Read complete review

Mark Glanville
Opera Now, March 2012

All the hallmarks of vintage Hvorostovsky are here: the Russian propensity to dwell on longing and loss; an expressive yearning that cuts through the vocal bravura; and a virile charm that leavens the heavy, head-on intensity of these superb songs. This is a fine debut to Hvorostovsky’s new partnership with Ondine. © 2012 Opera Now Read complete review

Anthony Tommasini
The New York Times, February 2012

…there is nothing like hearing singers in the repertory to which they were born. Mr. Hvorostovsky is superb in his recent recording of 26 Rachmaninoff songs…joined by the sensitive pianist Ivari Ilja. His dark, luxurious voice ideally suits Rachmaninoff’s impetuous and mercurial songs, and his idiomatic delivery of the Russian texts exudes authority.

Mr. Hvorostovsky sings magisterially in all these songs: the melancholic “My Otdokhnjom”…with its slinking piano harmonies and urgent vocal lines; “Vesennije Vody”…all rhapsodic bursts of melody and rustling piano; the subdued yet wrenching “Vsjo Otnjal u Menja”…And his trademark ability to deliver long phrases seamlessly is put to good service in Rachmaninoff. © 2012 The New York Times Read complete review

Tom Huizenga
National Public Radio, February 2012

I love the slightly exotic coloring Rachmaninov gives the song, which plays perfectly through Hvorostovsky’s plush, dark voice. © 2012 Deceptive Cadence/National Public Radio Read complete review

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