|Susanna Phillips Myra Huang|
And what a set that was! Ms. Phillips clearly enjoyed singing the selections from Do You Sing, Mr. Twain? by the late Gordon Myers. Eight pithy aphorisms were rather simply set with the exception of the final one, "On Rules of Writing" an ironic piece extolling brevity but marked by florid pianism and vocalism exceeding that of the baroque and bel canto periods. Ms. Phillips and her dazzling piano partner Myra Huang had a ball with this as did the audience.
In fine French style, the pair delighted us with four Chausson songs, each a delicate gem, all sad and nostalgic. Equally fine were "Ellens Gesang I, II and III" by Schubert, settings from Sir Walter Scott's The Lady of the Lake, the final selection being the famous "Ave Maria". These were followed by Alban Berg's Sieben frühe Lieder, songs we have previously found rather inaccessible. Ms. Phillips' and Ms. Huang's artistry managed to bring out melodic elements heretofore unnoticed and we were filled with delight and gratitude; we are looking forward to hearing them again. We do wish, however, that Ms. Phillips would pay more attention to the final consonants in German. The d's and t's were firmly enunciated but the final "en"s were sometimes lost which would drive a native German speaker a bit crazy.
Our two artists spent a great deal of time and effort on Olivier Messsiaen's Poemes pour Mi, Book II. They are obviously highly meaningful to the pair but were somewhat less enchanting to us, both in subject matter and musical values. Those who read Voce di Meche regularly will recall how essential melody is to our ears. Still, we were riveted by the sincerity of the performance and would be willing to give the songs a second hearing. Indeed, there are many works that grow on one with successive exposures.
No such forbearance was needed for the set of songs by Enrique Granados! We adore the sound and style of the Spanish language and the attention the composer gave to melody. The performance was charming and during the final selection, Ms. Huang distinguished herself with some very vibrant piano playing.
Taken as a whole, the recital was finely structured--some well-known favorites, some lesser-known works by well-known composers, some challenging pieces, some accessible ones, and some we've never heard before. We have observed Ms. Phillips' artistic growth for several year now and and have always enjoyed her performances on the opera stage. Indeed, we are anticipating a splendid performance as the Countess in Le nozze di Figaro in Santa Fe this summer. But it was a special treat to see her on the recital stage, being her charming engaging self.
(c) meche kroop