Ildar Abdrazakov

Power Players: Russian Arias for Bass

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Russian bass Ildar Abdrazakov has sung Italian and French repertory with some success, but he seemed to come into his own with this 2014 recording of popular Russian arias. It's not all the magic alchemy of Russian artists singing Russian music; Abdrazakov is ably accompanied by a Lithuanian orchestra under an Armenian conductor. And part of the appeal comes from intelligent repertoire choice; Abdrazakov, in his mid-thirties, offers a program ideally suited to the display of his voice in several different shades. In a selection of "power players," characters involved in some kind of power relationship or power struggle, he is now in a position to sound convincing in the thicker growls of Mussorgsky as well as the more classical tunes of Glinka. In a scene from Prokofiev's War and Peace, where Marshal Kutuzov decides to cede Moscow to Napoleon's troops so that the Russian army can live to fight another day, he shows real depth of quiet, resigned emotion. But where the situation calls for blazing power, he has it in spades. This is a delightful, exciting recital even for a listener not very familiar with Russian opera, and it's one of the most exciting things in the field since Dmitri Hvorostovsky came on the scene.

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