'In this moonlit night' (Lieder by Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky, Taneyev)
Dmitri Hvorostovsky was born to sing these songs, and indeed many collectors will probably already have the performance of Mussorgsky’s Songs and Dances of Death that he recorded two decades ago with Valery Gergiev (Philips, 5/94). Here, however, he far surpasses that earlier disc: in choosing now to revisit some of the repertoire that he recorded in former years (as he did in 2012 with his Ondine CD of Rachmaninov – 4/12), he brings to his interpretations a new richness and darkness of timbre, beautifully polished as it always was but enhanced with an even deeper understanding of how to project the subtleties of Mussorgsky’s vocal writing. Using Mussorgsky’s original piano version, Hvorostovsky is strongly and sensitively accompanied by his customary pianist, Ivari Ilja, in performances that probe to the very core of the anguish in these extraordinary songs, calling into play a remarkable range of expressive nuance, heartfelt sensibility and tonal shading.
This is a top-choice version of the Songs and Dances of Death and it is rendered even more valuable through being set in the context of equally persuasive performances of Tchaikovsky and Taneyev. Taneyev has benefited much from the recordings of his music that have appeared in recent years, his dry reputation as an expert in counterpoint and ancient music being shown to be only one aspect of his creative personality. Here in six songs he reveals a true romantic spirit and dramatic instinct, which Hvorostovsky and Ilja convey with intensity, poise and passion.