This performance shows exactly why Dmitri Hvorostovsky was one of the all-time greats

22 November 2017, 13:07 | Updated: 22 November 2017, 13:12

By Lizzie Davis

Dmitri Hvorostovsky, who has died today aged 55, was one of the greatest baritones of all time. You might have heard his unforgettable voice in the barn-storming operas of Verdi. But this Tchaikovsky song is one of his most heart-breaking performances. This is how we want to remember him.

Tchaikovsky’s song ‘We Sat Together’ (Mi sideli s toboy) is less than 3 minutes long, but it’s a perfectly formed miniature. This performance, on the Ondine label, pairs Dmitri Hvorostovsky with pianist Ivari Ilja. 

The spare piano accompaniment is the perfect complement to Hvorostovsky’s luscious, deep baritone.

We Sat Together by Tchaikovsky

The song describes a tranquil scene, by a river:

“We sat together beside the sleeping river.
With soft singing, the fisherman had drifted homeward.”

Read more: Dmitri Hvorostovsky dies, aged 55 >

But things are far from tranquil between the singer and his companion.

In the second verse the words describe a storm building and a tear appearing on his companion’s eyelashes.

“I sank towards you sobbing madly,
And you did not say anything.”

But they can’t find the words to speak to each other.

Read more: Dmitri Hvorostovsky gave this amazing performance of Rigoletto while battling a brain tumour

And this is where we just sit back and admire Hvorostovsky’s power and range:

We Sat Together by Tchaikovsky

The song fades into silence with the plaintive cry of regret:

“In my heart the sounds of life have long since been echoing away,
Oh why did I not say anything?!”

We Sat Together by Tchaikovsky

Less than three minutes and Hvorostovsky and his pianist Ivari Ilja manage to pack in the whole range of human emotions.

Dmitri, you will be sorely missed. 

Find out more about this recording, on Ondine, here.