- Petersburg, a vocal poem for baritone & piano: The Virgin In the City
- Russia Cast Adrift (Otchalivshaya Rus'), for voice & piano
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Anyone thinking that the Grammy nomination for this album was motivated as a tribute on the event of the illness and death of the great Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky need not worry: the album stands on its own merits, and it makes a fine swan song, although the album was recorded in 2016, when Hvorostovsky was still in fine voice before the recurrence of the cancer that killed him. Georgy Sviridov was Soviet Russia's great neo-Romantic composer. He's been compared with Britten, although Sviridov is more traditionalist, and to Barber, which would come closer were Sviridov not so totally Russian. The texts are of a Russian Orthodox or otherwise spiritual cast. (The title work compares Russia to a flying swan.) "Russia Cast Adrift" is a song cycle to texts by Sergei Yesenin, originally written for voice and piano. The orchestration here by Evgeny Stetsyuk, however, is part of the appeal. It's for a large group including a piano and a folk ensemble (here the intriguingly named Style of Five Ensemble), a configuration that has been duplicated rarely, if ever, and which illuminates Stetsyuk's texts in surprising ways. It's compelling at every turn. Even better is Hvorostovsky's performance itself, which stands up to the orchestral rethinking of the music and, at the climaxes, will pin you against the wall if you let a good sound system go to work. Sample "It Sounds, It Sounds, the Fateful Trumpet!," extroverted here and introverted in the original piano version, for the full effect. A fitting monument to the great Hvorostovsky, and a must-have for anyone.