|Alexander Lewis and Brian Wagorn|
Mr. Lewis' world is broad in compass; he uses his expressive voice along with gesture and body language to convey the deepest meaning of a song, be it funny, sad or ironic. The texture of his timbre is as pleasing as it is varied and he thankfully never pushes for a high note, a fault of most young (and not-so-young) tenors that hurts our ears. As a matter of fact, his technique is so refined that one never notices it and is able to focus on his artistry.
He opened the program with selections from The Purcell Collection which were realized by Benjamin Britten. Mr. Lewis' cheekiness, most notably in "Pious Celinda goes to Prayers", married well with the nature of these brief jewels but he switched gears readily for the tragic "Elegy on the Death of Queen Mary", sung in Latin.
Following, he sang eight charming songs written by Schubert when the composer was but 17-18 years old, an age at which today's youth is doing nothing more than skateboarding or watching TV. The texts by Ludwig Hölty are delightful and have been set by other composers. Each and every one merited second and third hearings, imbued as they are with the freshness of youth.
We know Bellini as the composer of operas in which the arias have long arching phrases, so beloved by singers and listeners. His song "Torna, vezzosa Fillide" took us by surprise with its short phrases. It was composed for voice and piano but Bryan Wagorn's exuberant pianism brought in all the richness of a full orchestra. Arpeggios, chords and runs seem to drop like pearls from Mr. Wagorn's fingers. Mr. Lewis conveyed every drop of the shepherd's despair as he mourned his lost love.
Reynaldo Hahn's Venezia, a collection of lovely graceful songs, was performed in such an Italianate style that we were sure Mr. Lewis had some secret Italian genetic material. We do love barcarolles and Mr. Wagorn's piano had us swaying in our seat. Some of the songs are incredibly romantic and others are ironic. Mr. Lewis' dramatic chops echoed his talents on the opera stage, which we have long enjoyed.
The judges who gave awards to Mr. Lewis certainly knew what they were doing. It took a lot of hard work to make everything look so effortless!
© meche kroop