Dmitri Hvorostovsky sings Neapolitan Songs
Why should tenors have all the fun with Neapolitan songs? That is the clear message of this latest disc from the Siberian baritone‚ Dmitri Hvorostovsky. Can it be that Italian baritones are too firmly conditioned towards villainy by Italian opera to think of themselves as passionate‚ heroic lovers‚ as is demanded in Neapolitan song? Hvorostovsky plainly thinks differently. As he points out himself in his claims to this repertory‚ ‘I have an Italian wife‚ I’ve sung in Italian all my life‚ and I’ve worked hard on the Neapolitan dialect. Besides‚ this repertoire has been in my blood for 25 years‚ from my early days as a student.’
The recordings bear that out. As well as being a glamorous figure physically‚ he sports a voice with all the regulation heartthrob required for this repertory‚ rich and firm‚ and in this recording he pulls out all the stops without ever resorting to coarseness‚ even if understandably he comes close in his outburst over ‘O sole mio. He characterises well‚ bringing out distinctions of mood and timbre‚ and the voice is more Italianate than Slavonic‚ so that only a prejudiced listener might infer a Russian flavour. In any case‚ such a song as Tosti’s Marechiare has its exotic element enhanced thanks to the lush orchestration with oriental flavours of G Chiaramello‚ responsible for almost all the other orchestrations too.
That formula will be selfrecommending both to devotees of Neapolitan song and to fans of the singer‚ yet these orchestrations bring an obvious reservation‚ when‚ recorded at the Moscow Conservatory in a swimmingbath acoustic‚ the Moscow Philharmonia sounds so very soupy with the sound ‘enhanced’‚ I imagine‚ through an echo chamber. Not everyone will object‚ but at least be warned of that popstyle presentation.