Hvorostovsky brings passion and Russian soul to New World Center
After an absence of several seasons, Dmitri Hvorostovsky returned to South Florida for a superb recital on Saturday night at the New World Center in Miami Beach, presented by Judy Drucker’s Great Artists Series. Astutely mixing rarely heard art songs of Sergei Rachmaninoff with Italian, Russian and German opera arias, the Russian baritone was in peak vocal form. A large and wildly enthusiastic audience awarded him repeated standing ovations.
In this vocal recital by a major artist at the New World Symphony’s two-year old hall, the formidable sonic power of Hvorostovsky’s voice soared with an immediacy, depth and vibrancy only fitfully heard at his previous local appearances in large auditoriums with less flattering acoustics. New World Center is clearly an exceptional venue for vocal and instrumental recitals as well as orchestral and chamber music programs.
In the 24 years since his rise to operatic stardom after winning the 1989 Cardiff Singer of the World Competition, Hvorostovsky’s voice has gained in richness and depth. At times his dark timbre almost sounds like a bass, the low notes deep and firm. His stage demeanor has become much more relaxed. Hvorostovsky was clearly enjoying the intimacy of the event, even displaying a sense of humor at the repeated seating of latecomers on a traffic-plagued night.
Rachmaninoff’s large output of songs date from the early years of his career and are the least frequently heard of his works. In these short, intimate pieces, Rachmaninoff’s inspired melodic fluency and pianistic complexity are just as potent as in his large-scale works.
Hvorostovsky sang eleven of these masterful vignettes. His ability to spin a soft, caressing melodic line took wing in Morning and Do you remember the evening? My child, you are as beautiful as a flower displayed Hvorostovsky’s bass-like resonance while In My Soul, sung with intense emotional fervor, demonstrated his ease in the highest baritonal register.
Russian Orthodox chant inspired At the gates of the holy cloister and The raising of Lazarus, which brought stentorian declamation; yet the softer, more songful pieces offered Hvorostovsky’s finest singing. The understated beauty of Lilacs, luxuriant tones in the arioso How nice this place is and anguished cry of pain in Once again I am alone were simply thrilling.
Hvorostovsky concluded this generous set with the volatile I am waiting for you, his dark soulfulness turning fiery and impassioned. Accompanist Ivari Ilja impressively commanded the arpeggiated undertow and surging emotions beneath the vocal lines.
Opera has long been Hvorostovsky’s forte and the concert’s second half confirmed his theatrical ease. The cantabile lines of “Resta immobile” from Rossini’s William Tell flowed mellifluously. Hvorostovsky brought idiomatic Russian soul and fury to an aria from Anton Rubinstein’s The Demon, a staple of the Russian operatic repertoire rarely produced in the West. He tested his Wagnerian chops with a molten toned “Abendstern” from Tannhauser, the terraced dynamics wonderfully varied.
Bending forward to portray the hunchbacked jester, Hvorostovsky attacked the “Cortigiani” from Rigoletto with fierce rage, his final plea for his daughter voiced with passion. The malevolence of Iago may be a great future role for Hvorostovsky. His rendition of “Credo in un Dio crudel” from Otello recalled the golden age singing of Gobbi and Bastianini, the rotund beauty and dramatic power of the voice stunning.
For encores, he offered a resonant, lyrical version of the Cesare Andrea Bixio standard Parlami d’amore (dedicated to Drucker) and a full throated Passione, the Neapolitan song assayed with real Italianate fervor.
Prior to the concert, Drucker announced that this would definitely not be her last presentation. With performances of this quality, one can only hope she will continue for a long time to come.
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Sun Mar 24, 2013
at 1:43 pm