January 29, 2015

An Evening with Ildar Abdrazakov

January 29, 2015
Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage at Carnegie Hall, New York

…a bass of elegance and unforced resonance.” – The New York Times

Opera’s most dashing bass-baritone, Ildar Abdrazakov, performs an intimate and impassioned debut solo recital at Carnegie Hall that includes the works by G. Fauré, F. Liszt and M. Ravel, as well as highlights of the Russian opera repertoire by M. Glinka, P.I. Tchaikovsky and M. Mussorgsky.

Ildar Abdrazakov, “…a bass of elegance and unforced resonance” ( New York Times), has established himself as one of opera’s most sought-after basses since making his La Scala debut in 2001 at age 25. The Russian singer became a mainstay at leading houses worldwide, including New York’s Metropolitan Opera, the Vienna State Opera, and Munich’s Bavarian State Opera. His powerful yet refined voice, coupled with his compelling stage presence, have prompted critics to hail him as a “sensational bass…who has just about everything – imposing sound, beautiful legato, oodles of finesse” (The Independent).

After making his Mostly Mozart Festival debut in Beethoven’s Ninth with Gianandrea Noseda this summer in New York, Ildar Abdrazakov kicks off his 2014-15 season at the Metropolitan Opera, in the title role of Richard Eyre’s new season-opening production of Le nozze di Figaro, with James Levine on the podium. Following his run as Figaro, Abdrazakov swaps his valet’s cloak for a toreador’s cape, remaining at the Met for two performances as Escamillo in Carmen opposite Anita Rachvelishvili, his Met co-star in last season’s Prince Igor. Notable past productions include Abdrazakov’s role debut as Henry VIII opposite Anna Netrebko in Anna Bolena, opening the company’s 2011-12 season; Dosifey in Mussorgsky’s Khovanshchina; and the title role in a new production of Verdi’s Attila under the baton of his longtime mentor, Riccardo Muti. In its review of his Prince Igor at the Met last season, the New York Times praised the “compelling bass,” noting that “solid and ruggedly handsome, Mr. Abdrazakov is a confident actor. Though his voice is firm and robust, he is not one of those formidable, gravelly Russian basses. He is a fine singer of Italian repertory, and his Igor has moments of Italianate lyrical refinement.” He recorded Igor’s famous Act II aria for his debut solo album, Power Players: Russian Arias for Bass, which was released by Delos earlier this year, and a DVD and Blu-ray of the Met production of Prince Igor will be released by Deutsche Grammophon later this month.

Ildar Abdrazakov, Bass-Baritone
Mzia Bakhtouridze, Piano


MIKHAIL GLINKA  Bolero, “The Farewell to St. Petersburg”, G. x206
(1804 – 1857)   The Fire of Longing Burns in My Heart
(В крови горит огонь желанья), Lyrics by A. Pushkin
I Recall a Wonderful Moment
(Я помню чудное мгновенье), Lyrics by A. Pushkin
Traveling Song
(Попутная песня), Lyrics by N. Kukolnik,
“The Farewell to St. Petersburg”, G. x206

PIOTR TCHAIKOVSKY A Tear Trembles (Слеза дрожит), lyrics by A. Tolstoy
(1840 – 1893) None but the Lonely Heart
(Нет, только тот, кто знал), Lyrics by Goethe
Cradle song “Lullaby”
(Колыбельная), Lyrics by A. Maikow
Serenata di Don Giovanni
(Серенада Дон Жуана), Lyrics by A.K.Tolstoy

MODEST MUSSORGSKY Songs and dances of death,
(1839 – 1881) Lyrics by Golenichev-Kutusov
Lullaby (Колыбельная) in F-sharp minor
Serenade (Серенада) in E minor–E-flat minor
Trepak (Трепак) in D minor
The Field-Marshal
(Полководец) in E-flat minor–D minor


FRANZ LISZT Sonetti di Petrarca, song cycle, S. 270
(1811 – 1886)

GABRIEL FAURE Après rêve /After a dream/ song for & piano Op 7/1
(1845 – 1924) Fleur Jetée /Discarded flower/, song for voice & piano
in F minor, Op. 39/2

MAURICE RAVEL Don Quichotte a Dulcinee, Three song cycle:
(1875 – 1937) Chanson romanesque
Chanson épique
Chanson à boire

Event Reviews

Sunday, February 01, 2015
An Evening with Ildar Abdrazakov at Carnegie Hall live review
Review by By Patricia Contino
The big moment in Bizet’s Carmen occurs when Escamillo sings about being the Toreador. This was no different back in November when bass Ildar Abdrazakov sang the role on the Met’s HD transmission of the opera. He held nothing back in his voice or demeanor – Hemingway would have approved. An act later, he did something equally effective: smiling sweetly after singing of his love for Carmen.

A recital is different altogether. Traditional and expected, it remains the best way to appreciate a singer. While one cannot ever “know” an artist, it was clear at Abdrazakov’s Carnegie Hall recital debut on January 29th that he is very comfortable with his ability and audience. The Bashkirian bass’s smiles are for real, so is his voice.

Abdrazakov, accompanied by Mzia Bakhtouridze, divided his recital into two well balanced sections. The first was all Russian, highlighted by Mussorgsky’sSongs of Dances and Death. The four songs personify Death as comforter, seducer, trickster and eternal warrior. Abdrazakov’s voice in the last song, The Field-Marshal, chillingly filled every inch of the hall. The Cherry Orchard Festival who sponsored the recital didn’t provide translations in the program – not a problem for the predominantly enthusiastic Russian audience. For the equally impressed rest, this wasn’t necessary because Abdrazakov conveyed the required emotion for not just Mussorgsky, but everything else without overreaching. Ultimately, the removal of rustled paper and half-dimmed house lights made for less distraction and more concentration.

European composers comprised the second half of the program. Here, Abdrazakov showed why the Met and other major opera houses routinely cast him for roles outside the Russian repertoire. Fauré’s Fleur Jetée (Discarded Flower) was passionate and painful. He has a strong, gorgeous voice and good diction. Though a bass, he has the ability to reach deeper, which he did during Ravel’s Don Quichotte à Dulcinée. These three songs were for the 1933 GW Pabst film Don Quixote starring the great bass Feodor Chaliapin, who made his debut in Ufa, Abdrazakov’s hometown. Again, familiarity with French proved unnecessary; the Romantic Song, Epic Song, Drinking Song are all part of the Don’s character. Even better, Abdrazakov’s smooth delivery matched Ravel’s lush pseudo-Spanish dance melodies.

Abdrazakov stuck with the Spanish theme for his encores of Don Giovanni’sSerenade and Granada. However, the last encore was Over the Rainbow sung in delicate English, leaving the audience smiling.

By Patricia Contino
Saturday, January 31, 2015
Ildar Abdrazakov Seduces Carnegie; Superb Mzia Bakhtouridze at the Piano
Review by By Susan Hall

An Evening with Ildar Abdrazakov
Ildar Abdrazakov, Bass
Mzia Bakhtouridze, Piano
Stern Auditorium
Carnegie Hall
New York, N.Y.
January 29, 2015

Ildar Abdrazakov made his Carnegie Hall debut in a program that would test any singer’s mettle. The evening’s program was divided into two parts. In the first, Glinka, Tchaikovsky and Mussorgky provided a pot pourri of songs and arias that often echoed the keys and tones of the Volga Boat Song. Very Russian in color. Sometimes surprisingly un-Russian in brightness and lightness.

The bass made his Metropolitan Opera debut as Masetto in 2004, a hulking contadino, earthy and real. He caught New York’s eye when his image in the role of Attila was plastered over buses and bus stops in Manhattan in 2010. He has a complete and satisfying voice to dress his dashing image. Handsome as all get out, he sings with a dramatic and dynamic range that is perfection. Matinee idol he could be, except he’s a bass and generally consigned to the evil roles written for this range.

A favorite of Riccardo Muti’s, we heard his inexorably moving Verdi Requiem with Muti in Chicago a year ago, a reprise his bass performance of the Verdi under Levine in honor of Luciano Pavarotti. He performed an aria from Ernani at the Richard Tucker awards ceremony last fall.

Now he is everywhere and well deserves the attention.

But there was something very special in this evening with him at Carnegie. Even on a large stage, Abdrazakov has an intimate presence.

His body is restrained in performance, but his eyes are very expressive, sometimes glinting like an impish elf, sometimes in mournful repose and at others, wide open to anything. His hands are not aflutter, but an occasional gesture is used to punctuate a phrase or express a change of mood. He is totally committed to conveying emotion to his audience. They received his message with delight and heartfelt applause.

Abdrazakov is an interesting artist, because he is clearly a master, but it comes to him so naturally. And the pleasure he takes in his gift is generously conveyed.

In the second part of the program he sang the Petrach sonnet song cycle by Liszt, then the Don Quichotte a Dulcinee song cycle of Ravel, and finally two Faure songs. They leave a singer bare. The lyricism and the sheer beauty of Abrazakov’s voice and line were exposed and lovely.

Mzia Bakhtouridze at the piano was a revelation. Good accompanists do not call attention to themselves and she did not. But these particular piano parts are as challenging as any in the literature and she played with great beauty, with precision and with consistent sensitivity to the singer. Bass and pianist had an exchange early on in the program, and I imagine they were agreeing about the wonder of the sound at Carnegie. Their faces were filled with joy.

For encores, we had a soucon of Mozart, Granada, Abdrazakov’s voice lit by fire and dancing, and a final tip to Garland’s friends in the audience, “Somewhere over the Rainbow.” Abdrazakov could fill Yankee stadium if he wanted to, but Carnegie is just right to honor this special bass.

By: Susan Hall
Source: Berkshire Fine Arts/berkshirefinearts.com

Venue: Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage at Carnegie Hall

Carnegie Hall is a concert venue in Midtown Manhattan in New York City. Designed by architect William Burnet Tuthill and built by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in 1891, it is one of the most famous and prestigious venues in the United States for classical and popular music, renowned for its beauty, history, and acoustics. Carnegie Hall, located at 57th Street and 7th Avenue, is actually three halls in one: the main venue is the Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage, which seats 2,804, the underground Zankel Hall seats 599, and Weill Recital Hall seats 268.

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