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.

Saturday, September 21, 2013


Ms. Bachrach, Mr. Brofman, Ms. Beattie, Mr. An, Mr. Djupstom, Mr. Snook
We can never pass up an opportunity to hear Johannes Brahm's song cycles Liebeslieder Op.52 and Neues Liebeslieder Op.65.  It's been about three years since we last heard them and were absolutely thrilled to learn that the estimable  Brooklyn Art Song Society (BASS) were performing them as Part I of "Clara, Robert and Johannes", an exploration of songs composed by Brahms and the Schumanns.  Most music lovers know about Brahms' unrequited love for Clara Schumann who presumably remained faithful to Robert even after his death.  But no one REALLY knows what transpired; one can only speculate.  It isn't necessary to know the details in order to appreciate this gorgeous four-part harmony and two-handed piano.

Last night we heard soprano Kristina Bachrach, mezzo Jennifer Beattie, tenor Brandon Snook and bass Paul An, sensitively partnered by pianists Michael Djupstom and Michael Brofman, the latter the Artistic Director of BASS.  The voices blended beautifully--most often in four-part harmony; yet we also had opportunities to hear each member of the quartet in solo, or in duet, most notably in the second half of the program. 

The 33 songs are settings of brief poems by Georg Frederich Daumer and involve many changes of moods: infatuation, rejection, pursuit, avoidance, relinquishment, succumbing, hopefulness and disappointment.  Perhaps music has changed a great deal over the years but the vicissitudes of love have not.  It was Brahms' genius that transformed these rhymed couplets into music of melodic, harmonic and rhythmic variety.

Ms. Bachrach had the lion's share of solos and invested each with appropriate emotion.  Ms. Beattie was particularly moving in "Wohl schön bewandt" as the woman whose lover recently finds her invisible.  Mr. Snook had a fine solo in "Ich kose süss mit der and der" as a man who goes from one woman to the next while always yearning for the unavailable one.  Mr. An's sturdy bass impressed with "Ihr shwarzen Augen".

Our calendar is already marked for Part II on October 5th --Frauenlieben und Leben, as well as the complete liederbuch of Clara.  Likewise for Part III on November 17th when Robert's Myrthen will be performed.  If you love lieder as much as we do, you will mark your calendars as well.

© meche kroop

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