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.

Thursday, January 16, 2014


Joseph Lim
Last night's Spotlight Recital as part of "The Song Continues" featured baritone Joseph Lim who has been making quite a name for himself at the Lyric Opera of Chicago and winning prizes from the Met National Council and the Gerda Lissner Foundation.  And he also won the hearts of the audience when his recital encore was dedicated to Ms. Horne herself--the brothers Gershwin's  1927 "Embraceable You".  This entire week has been a celebration of Ms. Horne's (unbelievable) 80th birthday.  As she herself said on Monday "I'm still here!" and we are glad of it.  After her very major opera career she has used her time, energy and talent to guide the next generation of singers and collaborative pianists at The Music Academy of the West.  A big big hurrah for this grande dame!

Mr. Lim's final set of songs was our personal favorite of the hour-long recital.  Ravel's Don Quichotte à Dulcinée offers the singer an opportunity to portray many moods--the grand and the intimate, the funny and the reverent.  Mr. Lim seized the opportunity and ran with it.  In some mighty fine French, he was undaunted by the low-lying phrases and clearly connected with the material.  We loved the delicate decrescendo on the final "amen" of "Chanson épique" and the humorous "Chanson à boire".

His opening set of songs were by Tosti and it took awhile for the unfussy Mr. Lim to open up his creamy baritone and invest the songs with the expansive Italianate style that is called for.  "Non t'amo piu" sat well on his voice and by expressing its passion he demonstrated that he has the goods.

Just this past Saturday night we reviewed Jazimina MacNeil singing Schumann's Liederkreis, op.39 and were delighted to hear it so soon afterward sung by a baritone to different effect.  Mr. Lim's delivery of "In der Fremde" was very moving and in "Zweilicht" we enjoyed some lovely word coloring that we want to hear more of from this fine young singer.  For example, in "Waldesgespräch" we yearned to hear greater differences between the voice of the seductive man and the voice of the Wood Witch.  In any event, Mr. Lim showed fine volume control and lovely phrasing.

We found his German diction somewhat inconsistent.  He was meticulous about pronouncing the final consonants with a few exceptions.  The "er" ending sounded like an "uh" which is commonly called a "schwa".  And the "ich" (the bane of many American singers as well) was on the muddy side.  These tiny quibbles sound nit-picky in the face of the overall delight of the recital but we would feel remiss in letting slide an easily correctable flaw in so fine an artist.

The esteemed pianist, coach and educator Brian Zeger was the collaborative pianist for the recital and, as usual, his playing was sensitive, authoritative and marvelously relaxed.  There is nothing like experience!

© meche kroop

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