Ondine’s third release with the star baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky is devoted to sacred works by Russian composers and Russian folk songs. Hvorostovsky is accompanied by the prestigious Russian Grand Choir “Masters of Choral Singing,” conducted by Lev Kontorovich, a choir that keeps up the best traditions of Russian choral singing.
This is a star-led performance of one of the most popular romantic operas with the unrivalled pairing of Fleming and Hvorostovsky as the doomed lovers. Their onstage chemistry, emotional singing and outstanding acting make this a truly special and unique production. Thousands of movie-goers watched this production live in cinemas across Europe and the US in February 2007, when the production and the singing of the central characters met with great critical acclaim. Valery Gergiev, Russia's greatest living conductor, leads Russia's classic opera, with a thrilling account of Tchaikovsky's most intense and passionate score.
This disc brings together a selection of songs by the five members of the Mighty Handful, and serves as a useful and economical introduction to their Read more The Miserly Knight, Alexander Serov’s Judith (both on Harmonia Mundi), and Prokofiev’s Betrothal in a Monastery (BMG). He also appears in recordings of Rimsky-Korsakov’s May Night and Shostakovich’s unfinished opera The Gamblers (both on Capriccio), as well as a recording of Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis conducted by Antal Doráti (BIS). He has performed with major opera companies throughout the world. I have not been able to discover the reason for his name change, but it appears that at a certain point he emigrated to the U.S. You would learn little of this history from the Naxos notes.
Gergiev's is a Rite of Spring with a difference. He stresses the primitive barbarism of Stravinsky's groundbreaking score–the strange wheezings of the winds, the wild yawps of the tubas, and the deep rumblings of the bass drum. It's a Rite that stands out at a time when so many internationalized western orchestras give the piece an overlay of sophisticated polish that can rob it of the shock factor that drove the audience at the Paris premiere to riot. There are also numerous personal touches that can be controversial, such as the pause before the final chord, which may bother some but which work in the context of the interpretation. Gergiev's Rite faces strong competition from recorded versions by Markevitch, Dorati, Monteux, and Stravinsky himself, but it's definitely among the top choices. The Scriabin's less compelling, though still fascinating. Gergiev's approach tends to sound sectional, as the overall line is subordinated to momentary thrills. –Dan Davis