We are here to encourage the development of gifted young singers and to stimulate the growth of New York City's invaluable chamber opera companies. But we will not neglect the Metropolitan Opera either. Get ready for bouquets and brickbats.

Monday, October 8, 2012


James Barbato
Jazimina MacNeil
Kelly Markgraf
Mary Feminear
Another splendid recital last night by Schubert&Co. gave four talented young singers an opportunity to show how Schubert tailored his music to fit the poetry he was setting.  The poets on this program comprised Johann Georg Jacobi, Friedrich von Hardenberg (otherwise known as "Novalis"), Christian Friedrich Daniel Schubart and Marianne van Willemer.  Most of the poetry appears to have been written in the latter half of the 18th c. or early 19th c.; favorite topics seems to be love, fulfilled or frustrated, and religious faith. 

Baritone Kelly Markgraf opened the program with songs of romantic love fulfilled--An Chloen and Hochzeitlied.  His fine large voice filled Central Presbyterian Church with resounding joy while his powerful stage presence lent credibility to the text.  It must be noted that Mr. Markgraf's German is superlative; we are always grateful when the singer is unafraid of the final "ch" or "g".  So many singers try to fake it or ignore it.

Mezzo Jazimina (we LOVE that name) Macneil has a most pleasant voice and sang Jacobi's "In der Mitternacht" and Novalis' "Nachthymne" as well as sharing Novalis' cycle of four hymns with Mr. Markgraf.

In the second half of the program we heard tenor James Barbato singing some rather sad songs by Jacobi and Schubart; his voice is particularly affecting in the middle of his range.  Soprano Mary Feminear introduced us to a charming song by Schubart "An mein Klavier", a love song to a piano.  But she really shone in the Suleika songs of von Willemer in which she gave herself over to the ecstasy of the words and music.

As usual, artistic co-directors of Schubert@Co. Lachlan Glen and Jonathan Ware served as piano partners.  Their pianism is flawless and always makes it clear what Schubert wanted to say in his writing.  We want to acknowledge them once more for giving us the opportunity to hear some lesser known lieder.  They all deserve to be more widely performed.

We are eagerly awaiting the next installment of this exhaustive perusal of Schubert's vocal oeuvre.  Schedule is available on their website.

(c) meche kroop

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