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.

Sunday, January 20, 2013


Marilyn Horne
Piotr Beczala
The week of song has drawn to a close and we are left with some pretty fabulous aural memories.  The final program, Marilyn Horne Song Celebration, gave us the opportunity to hear one wonderful singer from each fach, with the closing set provided by star tenor Piotr Beczala.

Tenor Timothy Fallon opened with Carol Wong as piano partner.  Mr. Fallon's sweet tenor opens up to passionate intensity at the drop of a crescendo.  We particularly enjoyed his ability to spin out some long phrases in the set of early songs by Richard Strauss. He certainly knows how to build a song as noted in his performance of Three Browning Songs by Amy Beach, a contemporary of Strauss.    Mr. Fallon has a relaxed and unfussy manner on stage and joked with the audience.   If only he could be persuaded to abandon his grip on the piano which limits his ability to relate to the audience.

Baritone Kelly Markgraf sang Five Songs for Voice, Viola and Piano by Charles Martin Loeffler, another contemporary of Strauss.  Mr. Markgraf's performance stood out because of his perfect French, to which his creamy tone lends itself well.  He was partnered by Keun-A Lee at the piano and Paul Neubauer on viola.  This unusual combination delighted the ear.  We loved the thirds on the viola in "Rêverie en sourdine" and the lovely triplets in the piano in "Harmonie du soir".

Mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnson Cano, partnered by Christopher Cano, made an impression with her powerful voice and beautiful tone in Franz Liszt's deeply felt "Pace non trovo".  Mr. Cano held the final cord just long enough in an exquisite diminuendo.  We also enjoyed the gentle eroticism of "Oh! quand je dors".

Soprano Simone Osborne, resplendent in white satin, used her brilliant instrument and used it with great variety as she essayed three very different Verdi songs--the tragic "La seduzione", the humorous "Stornello" and the suffering "Deh, pietoso".  We are always thrilled to see Warren Jones at the piano; his accompaniment well illustrated the connection between Verdi's songs and those of Rossini, when Ms. Osborne sang the latter's "L'esule".  Like Mr. Fallon, Ms. Osborne spends too much time hanging onto the piano but when she lets go and steps forward, her connection with the audience expands.

Mr. Beczala dazzled the audience with Strauss' "Zueignung", followed by Carl Bohm's "Still wie di nacht" and a number of Polish songs.  We were astonished by how beautifully the language "sings" in spite of the plethora of consonants.  Mr. Beczala manages to articulate the consonants while never cheating a vowel, something we attribute to his amazing embouchure.  What a delight to listen to him!  His piano partner Carrie Ann Matheson is always a pleasure to hear.

It is with a feeling of gratitude to all the artists who contributed to this splendid week of recitals and master classes that we finish this final column.  We thank Marilyn Horne for initiating this special week of song and we thank Carnegie Hall for providing the right home.

(c) meche kroop

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