A Great Singer and an Unsung Hero

By Barry Kempton

I’m a day later than usual getting to my blog.  Yesterday, all at The Schubert Club (myself included) were preoccupied with our final recital of the 2013-14 International Artist Series.  It did not disappoint!  The charismatic Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky performed a program of songs by Tchaikovsky, Medtner, Liszt and Rachmaninoff to a full house at the Ordway.  He sang gloriously, his voice has such richness and he has the ability convey emotions and beauty as few singers really can.  It was a memorable evening.

Enormous credit must go to Mr Hvorostovsky for his music-making and his magnetic stage presence.  Both his voice and his image will be imprinted in the audience’s minds for a long time to come.  But it’s important to mention that there were two musicians on stage, the second being pianist Ivari Ilja.  Because of the charisma of a soloist who stands center-stage, it is sometimes possible to take the musicianship of the accompanist for granted.  We shouldn’t – because last night, this Estonian pianist’s musical sensitivity and awareness of Mr Hvorostovsky were an important factor in making the evening so memorable.

I’m reminded of various other accompanists who have graced the Schubert Club stage.  Recital pianists are now often called collaborative pianists, which better signifies the essential role they play in the partnership.  Several are worthy of special mention for their special abilities and I may well revisit the subject at some point in the summer.

For today however, I prefer to keep my memory focused on the extraordinary evening provided by Mr Hvorostovsky and Mr Ilja; and add what an honor it is to be associated with an organization which presents such great artists.

By the way, the two encores were Iago’s aria from Verdi Otello and a Neapolitan song Passionata.