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.

Sunday, April 9, 2017


Julia Pilant and Petr Nekoranec

For those of you who don't know, the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program was created in 1980 by James Levine to identify and develop extraordinarily talented young singers, coaches, and pianists. Those fortunate enough to get accepted have access to all the resources of The Metropolitan Opera and, since 2010, to Juilliard School as well. These young artists are in demand all over the world, as well as onstage at the Met.

Friday evening was spent at the Bruno Walter Auditorium to enjoy one of their recitals. We went for the voices and the voice that captured our attention first was that of the French horn. We have always loved the sound and getting up close and personal for the first time allowed us to see how vocal an instrument it is and how sensitive. Valves must be removed and drained, for example. To play it is difficult.  To play it well is quite a gift.

The recital opened with Britten's Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings, Op. 31--with nary a string in sight. Apparently someone who was uncredited in the program had arranged it for tenor, horn, and piano. We had no interest in the text but we surely did enjoy the artistry of the performance. The work is moody and elegiac but is punctuated by muted announcements from the horn, which brought the work to life. For the Epilogue, the horn was heard from offstage, a very special moment. 
Petr Nekoranec, in his first year of the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program is the possessor of exactly the type of tenor we most enjoy. It is a sweet sound but with a rich texture; moreover his English diction (thanks to English Instructor Patricia Brandt and coach Jocelyn Dueck) is exemplary and puts to shame that of native American speakers. We enjoyed the melismatic passages of the Sonnet movement.

Giuseppe Mentuccia's piano wove together the voice and the horn and the entire work was well-balanced. We are looking forward to hearing Mr. Nekoranec sing a work in which we can appreciate the unique qualities of his voice. We imagine that Dvorak's songs would be lovely. 

The program for this recital was a challenging one, both for the artists and the audience. We are sure there were people in the hall who enjoy Olivier Messiaen but we are not among them. There are works that grow on you with repeated exposure and there are works that never capture one's affection. Poemes pour Mi are in the latter category.

That being said, The composer's sincerity was matched by the equally sincere performance of soprano Clarissa Lyons. She sang with fine French diction  and made sense of the text which she had translated herself. Fortunately she appeared later in the program singing Joseph Haydn's concert aria "Berenice che fai", a passionate work with different colors in each section. Her voice is well centered from top to bottom and beautifully phrased. It was altogether a polished performance with excellent support from pianist Valeriya Polunina who has a delicate touch.

The third pair of artists on the program comprised tenor Ian Koziara with pianist Zalman Kelber. Uh oh! More Britten! On This Island is another work we are not adding to our hit parade. Mr. Koziara has a large powerful dramatic tenor with plenty of strength in the lower register. We would have liked to hear him sing some Verdi. Mr. Kelber's piano was insistent in "Now the leaves are falling fast" and gently rippling in "Seascape".  Perhaps "Nocturne" had the loveliest melody.

As far as 20th c. music goes, Frank Bridge's setting of Mary Coleridge's "Love went a-riding" was unusually accessible and pleasing to the ear.  For Wagner's "Traume", one of the Wesendonck Lieder, we would have preferred a lighter vocal touch. There is plenty of Wagner more suited to such a hearty voice.

(c) meche kroop

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