Schubert@Co. has reached the approximate midpoint of their perusal of Franz Schubert's output of 600 plus songs without any evidence of flagging enthusiasm and with ever increasing quality of talent. Artistic directors and collaborative pianists Jonathan Ware and Lachlan Glen seem to have no difficulty assembling as talented a group of young Schubert interpreters as one could wish for and have arranged some rather stellar evenings for us Schubert lovers to enjoy.
Last night's recital was a case in point. Settings of poetry by Johann Gabriel Seidl, Franz von Schober, Johann Gaudenz von Salis-Seewis, Friedrich Schiller and Wilhelm Müller/Helmina von Chezy were presented to the lieder lovers who eschewed the Super Bowl in favor of ART. Lovely soprano Pureum Jo opened the program with a pair of settings of poetry by Seidl and another pair with poetry by Schober. Ms. Jo always delivers deeply felt interpretations with eloquent phrasing, ear-pleasing resonance and some crystalline top notes. Mr. Glen contributed some outstanding pianism that matched the profound mood changes from joyful to troubled. Schober's "Vergissmeinnicht" is a charming song with changes of key and mode about a young girl's awakening to womanhood. Mr. Glen captured it all and we loved it.
Mezzo Jazimina Macneil must have profited greatly by her summer at the Franz Schubert Institut since she showed a fine Schubertian style and a true mezzo sound in more songs by Schober and Seidl. Some of the songs were incredibly sad but "Die Männer sind méchant" is a somewhat more lighthearted look at a different type of female awakening--that of awakening to the realization that men are unfaithful. Mr. Ware excelled at capturing the rhythmic tread of the wanderer in "Der Wanderer an den Mond".
Tenor Cullen Gandy, in an unusual artistic decision, sang the deliciously ironic song of a young woman who keeps telling her lover all the things they will enjoy together but that she cannot love him because her mother warned her about love. His pleasant tenor lands softly on the ear. We are looking forward to hearing him in Santa Fe this coming summer where he will be an Apprentice Artist, a wonderful springboard for his career.
Tenor Miles Mykkanen, who also attended the Franz Schubert Institut, continues to delight us with his performance-ready voice and style. He always shows amazing insight into the material and brought to life some settings of poetry by Salis-Seewis that we might not have otherwise enjoyed. Perhaps Schubert was fonder of Seidl and Schober?
Baritone Philip Stoddard, like Mr. Mykkanen still an undergraduate, shows talent beyond his years of age and years of training. The colors of his voice were very manly and his delivery powerful in Schober's "Schiffers Scheidelied" and "Jägers Liebeslied". As convincing was his delivery, we urge Mr. Stoddard not to contemplate giving up singing for hunting and fishing!
Mezzo Tammy Coil seemed alone in her lack of involvement with the material and the audience. Some singers are able to be involved even when singing from the book but in this case we were somewhat disappointed. We would welcome the opportunity to hear her again when she is more familiar with the material. Furthermore we missed hearing any mezzo quality in her voice.
The evening ended on a high note with a delightful performance of "Der Hirt auf dem Felsen", one of our personal favorites. Soprano Lilla Heinrich-Szasz performed the strenuous yodel-like vocal line with consistency of tone throughout the register, opening to a beautiful top. In this lied, the clarinet serves to echo the vocal line and Jonathan Cohen did so with fine phrasing. Mr. Ware's piano supported both in grand style. The final verse conveyed the listener past the loneliness and sorrow right into the joy of anticipated Spring, which we too shared on this cold winter night.
(c) meche kroop