Cherry Orchard Festival of the Arts
Maestro Artist Management
An Evening with Ildar Abdrazakov
Ildar Abdrazakov, Bass
With: Mzia Bakhtouridze, Piano
Isaac Stern Auditorium/Ronald O. Perelman Stage
Press: Maestro Artist Management
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
January 29, 2015
Program: Works by M. Glinka (1804-57), P. Tchaikovsky (1840-93), M. Mussorgsky (1839-81), F. Liszt (1811-86), M. Ravel (1875-1937), G. Fauré (1845-1924).
An enormous, rousing crowd of opera fans greeted bass, opera artist, Ildar Abdrazakov, at Carnegie Hall tonight, for his solo opera recital. He was joined onstage by Mzia Bakhtouridze. During the course of the evening, Mr. Abdrazakov poignantly and masterfully sang songs composed by Glinka, Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky, Liszt, Ravel, and Fauré, based on works by novelists and poets, such as Tolstoy, Goethe, Kukolnik, Pushkin, and Morand. During intermission, and before and after the concert, one could hear mostly Russian being spoken, with smiles and enthusiasm. Mr. Abdrazakov, born in the former Soviet republic of Bashkiria, won the 2000 Maria Callas International Television Competition and has since performed at La Scala, the Met Opera, the Vienna State Opera, and London BBC Proms. His expansive discography includes a Grammy Award-winning recording of Verdi’s “Requiem” with Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. .
The Glinka works varied from the dynamic bolero “The Farewell to St. Petersburg”, to the romantic “I Recall a Wonderful Moment”, to the lyrical “The Flame of Desire Burns in My Heart”, to the rapid patter of a reprise of “The Farewell to St. Petersburg”, as a traveling song. In the Glinka works, Mr. Abdrazakov seemed somewhat restrained at first, soon becoming more relaxed. This was, after all, Carnegie Hall, in solo recital. One could sense a deluge of dynamism would soon follow, and it began in the Tchaikovsky pieces. Those varied from the fully emotional “A Tear Trembles”, to the soulful “None But the Lonely Heart”, to the echoing, whispering “Lullaby”, to the defiantly dramatic “Serenata di Giovanni”.
At this point in the Russian, first half of the program, Mr. Abdrazakov was assured of his audience’s adoration, and the Mussorgsky series of songs was astounding. It should be mentioned, also, at this point, Ms. Bakhtouridze had become accustomed to the stage acoustics, and her piano toned down to fully showcase the bass vocals of her operatic partner. Mussorgsky’s “Songs and Dances of Death”, composed on the poems of Golenichev-Kutuzov, ranged from the trembling “Lullaby”, to the elegant “Serenade”, to the atonal “Trepak”, to the powerful “The Field Marshall”. The piano accompaniment was always in the mood and moment, subtle or volatile, and, in interludes, Ms. Bakhtouridze shown as a maestro on her own.
The program became more delicate after intermission, beginning with the brooding, Liszt “Sonetti di Petrarca”. The program notes that Liszt had earlier (1838) composed the “Sonetti” for tenor voice, but he later (1865) transcribed them for a lower voice to enhance their austerity. As Mr. Abdrazakov was, by now, exuding unimpeded, expansive vocal strength, the Liszt, as well as the Ravel and Fauré pieces, were sung with ornamentation and occasional, tonal embellishments, to the delight of his fans. Ravel’s “Don Quichotte à Dulcinée”, a three-song cycle, exuded fantasy, flair, melodic harmony, and soothing piano passages. In the final, two song poems by Fauré, “Après un rêve” and “Fleur Jetée”, Mr. Abdrazakov took risks with extended notes of quietude, his voice remaining fluid and tonal. Waltz-like refrains and piano trills illuminated this program finale.
For the first encore, Mr. Abdrazakov chose “Grenada”, a song by Mexican composer Agustin Lara, sung in Spanish. This had been a Pavarotti favorite in his tenor recitals. Sung in Mr. Abdrazakov’s bass range, it was gorgeous, and he received huge accolades. The second encore, “Over the Rainbow”, by Arlen and Harburg, from the 1939 film, “The Wizard of Oz”, was sung in English to a now, wildly vocal crowd.