Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Wigmore Hall, London
Saturday 12 June 2010
Dmitri Hvorostovsky dedicated his first Wigmore recital in many years to the great Russian mezzo Irina Arkhipova – a voice which by all accounts set this hall vibrating for days after the event. It’s interesting what the size of a hall and the type of acoustic can do for a voice.
The idea that Hvorostovsky could sound hectoring and even at times in danger over-singing Wigmore Hall might have come as a surprise to those of us who’ve heard him more often in far larger venues. It’s not a big voice. So how much was it the immediacy of the hall and how much the weathering of a fine instrument?
For the most part he chose dark, decidedly world-weary, songs from the catalogues of Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov. “Again, as before, I am alone” set the tone and the tone was oppressive. The high G-sharp was startling, a trifle hard; most of the warmth was paradoxically in the lower register. “The Nightingale” began there and the bitterness was inescapable. It seemed to peak fiercely with “The Heroic Deed” with singer and his “orchestral” pianist Ivari Ilja storming the barricades of despair in search of “patience, love, and devotion”.
Hvorostovsky cracked a winning smile after this number as if to indicate how much he relishes a good drama. But we badly needed a lighter song for good behaviour and not even the hectic “Don Juan’s Serenade” – so little time, so many women – exactly fitted the bill so lustful and cynical was it. Glimpses of the famed Hvorostovsky “honey” were heard in the melismatic Borodin-like melody of Rachmaninov’s “Do not sing for me, fair maiden” but, though compelling, I didn’t feel we were hearing him at his best.
In the second half, Tchaikovsky’s “A tear trembles” was bravely direct, the voice presented naked and without “cover”, but then came “No, only the heart” and all one’s happiest memories of this singer flooded back in the enticing portamento of one exquisitely veiled phrase on the words “the one who loved me”. It was an Onegin moment if ever there was one and suddenly Hvorostovsky was right inside the recital.
An audible gasp from the audience greeted the eternal final phrase of Rachmaninov’s “In the silence of the secret night”, amazing breath control at the service of both poetry and musical line, and the lightly inflected deftness we had been waiting for all evening came, better late than never, in the Tchaikovsky “Serenade” of his encores. Now he was really warming up.
TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Peter Lik: The self-proclaimed 'fine-art photographer' whose work sells for millions
The best underrated Christmas movies from Love, Actually to While You Were Sleeping
Grace Dent on TV: The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies was a beautifully shot, immensely considered drama
The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies, review: Jason Watkins is brilliant, but real victim Joanna Yeates is reduced to a footnote
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking Lana Del Rey rape video
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food