Photo: Pavel Antonov
Sad news, with the death yesterday of the great Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky.
Whilst not a great exponent of contemporary music, he was known for his collaboration with Russian composer Georgy Sviridov (1916—1998). Sviridov was very much a composer of the Soviet era, a student of Shostakovich and well used to writing music that fulfilled the requirements of Socialist Realism. He wrote two song-cycles for the Hvorostovsky, St. Petersburg and Russia Cast Adrift, both recorded (follow the links). Hvorostovsky himself described the music as ‘quite simple and, unlike most contemporary vocal music, it has beautiful melodies, written to the most wonderful poetry.’
In another interview the singer described performing a great deal of contemporary music when a member of the Krasnoyarsk Theatre as a very young man: ‘I wouldn’t give you examples, but I do love contemporary music. When I was much younger, I used to do it a lot when I was a member of Krasnoyarsk Theater, when I lived in Krasnoyarsk, my home town. I was doing a lot of contemporary music written by our young composers. It was almost all twelve-tone music, which was very difficult.’ It would be good to know more about this part of his career. He also said in the interview that he would consider returning to contemporary repertoire. Who knows what we might have had had he been granted a little longer.