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.

Monday, May 4, 2015


Wei Quan and Xiaoming Tian

We were curious about the meaning of the name of this impressive young baritone. In our opinion "Flute Ringing" doesn't quite do justice to his rich round tone. With apologies for our arrogance, we think of it rather as "Sonorous Clarinet".

Mr. Tian's graduation recital from Manhattan School of Music drew a large crowd who knew what glories to expect, preferring them to being outside on a glorious New York Sunday. Not only is Mr. Tian the possessor of a vibrant velvety tone but an entire panoply of vocal skills which enable him to connect to the meaning of the text and convey such meaning to the audience. Variations of color and dynamics served to advance the artistry. The texture of his voice in the pianissimo parts is astounding.

Mr. Tian's interpretation of Gustav Mahler's Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen was marked by great depth of feeling and a mood sustained throughout the four songs. The song deal with the despair of lost love and covers all possible colors, even including the attempt to look at the bright side in nature. We recommend this as an audition piece with the expectation that others might be as deeply moved as we were.

This artist can change tone and mood readily as we observed in Manuel de Falla's Siete Canciones Populares Españolas. "Seguidilla murciana" is a real tongue-twister, "Jota" is frisky, "Nana" is a tender lullaby and "Polo" is as filled with pain as is the Mahler cycle. We particularly enjoyed Wei Quan's collaborative piano which brought out the Iberian nature of the work in the rhythmic "Polo" and the delicate "Asturiana".

We also heard Maurice Ravel's Don Quichotte à Dulcineé, of which our favorite was "Chanson épique" which Mr. Tian sang with deep spiritual devotion. Of the Three Songs Op. 45 of Samuel Barber, our favorite was the surreally funny "A green lowland of pianos". Speaking of pianos, collaborative pianist Wei Quan played with spirit when called for and delicacy where appropriate.

Having heard Mr. Tian in four languages we commend his superlative diction. There were no texts or titles so we had to rely on his accurate pronunciation. We rarely missed a word, except of course in the English, which we never understand as well as other languages.

As an encore, Mr. Tian took over the piano and sang a song of nostalgia for his homeland. We did not understand the words but we understood the feeling. Imagine our surprise when a fellow student revealed that Mr. Tian composed the song as well. This artist then might be called "Triply Talented Tian"! Now how does one say that in Mandarin?

(c) meche kroop

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