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, February 20, 2016


Jake Alan Nelson, Dror Baitel, Michal Biel, Katelan Terrell, Sora Jung, Adam Rothenberg, Sophia Kaminski, Kara Sainz, and Liv Redpath

The beautiful program of Wolf songs at Thursday's Liederabend at Juilliard required no lengthy academic introduction. Some folks get a lot out of context, but we prefer to let the music speak for itself. Hugo Wolf's songs are somewhat less accessible than those composed by Schubert but become more interesting with every hearing

The songs on the program were all settings of poetry by Eduard Mörike.  The five singers who performed them were topnotch, as were the five collaborative pianists. We were very impressed by baritone Jake Alan Nelson who is a natural born storyteller. There is a lot of breadth and resonance in his instrument but it is the personality and connection with the audience that got our attention.

In the opening lied, "Fussreise",  he took us for a walk in the countryside with a lot of enthusiasm.  In the quiet "Um Mitternacht" he colored his voice completely differently. He invested "Zur Warnung" with a full measure of bibulous humor. But his performance of "Der Feuerreiter" held us spellbound with its macabre horror. His Collaborative Pianist Dror Baitel followed each mood and color to perfection.

Tenor Seiyoung Kim (who missed the photo op) has a sweet instrument; his voice fell softly on the ear. He exhibited a lot of warmth in "Jägerlied" and "Heimweh" but we liked him best in the charmingly frisky "Der Gärtner".  Sora Jung was his fine CP.

Soprano Sophia Kaminski employs excellent phrasing and we enjoyed her best in "Der Knabe und das Immlein". We attribute this to the fact that she translated the song herself. There was no mistaking the enhanced connection with that particular text. Her excellent CP was Michal Biel.

Soprano Liv Redpath made a fine showing with the excited "Er ist's" but was even finer in "Das verlassene Mägdlein", a mini drama that always breaks our heart. She caught all the humor and double entendre of "Erstes Liebeslied eines Mädchens". In "An eine Äolsharfe", collaborative pianist Adam Rothenberg magically recreated the sound of a lute on his piano.

Mezzo-soprano Kara Sainz has a distinctive sound that she can open up like a capacious golf umbrella. We loved "An die Geliebte" and in "Nimmersatte Liebe" she sang as if she herself had written the text.  Katelan Terrell was her excellent CP.

As usual, we walked out on air, overjoyed to have heard such fine music-making. The evening was coached by Cameron Stowe.

(c) meche kroop

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