On Friday 11th June, I went to see Dmitri Hvorostovsky (top left) at a song recital at the Wigmore Hall. He was performing a concert dedicated to the great Russian mezzo-soprano Irina Konstantinova Arkhipova (below left), who died on February 11th 2010, a month after her 85th birthday.
Arkhipova will be remembered not just for her beautiful, youthful voice and magnificently long career, but also as a teacher and talent spotter. Almost all big name Russian performers, such as Hvorostovsky, Borodina, Guleghina and Netrebko, were taught by her. She even, in the late 1980's, headed the International Union of Music.
I was expecting much from Hvorostovsky, as I had enjoyed his previous concert with Anna Netrebko at the South Bank, and was interested to see how his voice would work with the acousics of the Wigmore Hall. He did not disappoint! He and his pianist, Ivari Ilja, took us on a mesmerising journey through two of the great Russian composers: Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and Sergi Rachmaninov.
Many of the opera 'critics' are always ready to point out that Hvorostovsky's voice is not in the 'Heldenbaritone' league, being a smaller voice than someone like, for instance, Bryn Terfel. At the Wigmore Hall, this was not evident, as the size and the acoustic of the Hall allowed his voice to reverberate with considerable force.
My favourites were: 'Again, as before, I am alone', 'No, only the lonely heart', and 'In the silence of the secret night'. The first of these rises to a magnificent G sharp in the third verse, which was secure, well placed and dramatic. The second was a beautiful rendition of this well known song, sometimes known as 'None but the lonely heart'. The third, however, was my favourite. The last note was held so long, and with perfect control, that there was an audible gasp from the audience at its end.
All in all, another triumph for Dmitri, and another well chosen arist by the Wigmore Hall.
The program was as follows:
Again, as before, I am alone
The heroic deed
I opened the window
Don Juan's Serenade
As fair as the day in blaze of noon
Do not sing for me, fair maiden
Oh no, I beg you, do not leave!
A tear trembles
No, only the lonely heart
The fearful moment
When yesterday we met
In the silence of the secret night
He has taken all from me
An excerpt from Musset - Loneliness
Christ is risen