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.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020


Dina Pruzhansky, Ruoting Li, Alexandra Linde, Pavel Suliandziga, and Rachel Arky

What a thrill! It isn't every day that we get to see not just one but two singers from our Around the World in Song concerts, onstage at Carnegie Hall. What was interesting about last night's concert was that the presenters--New York Artist Management and Composers Concordance--have the same goals as Around the World in Song does--to explore the artistic heritage of musicians from around the world who call New York City home.

These two organizations cast their net wider than we do, including all kinds of musicians, not just singers. We had the opportunity to hear music we had never been exposed to, most of which we enjoyed a great deal.

Renowned and much celebrated composer Dina Pruzhansky grew up in Israel and performed two of her own compositions. From her opera Shulamit, she chose the "Wedding Duet" with text drawn from the highly romantic "The Song of Songs". We regret having missed past performances of the opera and hope we will have an opportunity to hear a revival in the near future. Unlike most contemporary composers, Ms. Pruzhansky writes music that is melodic and accessible.

Mezzo-soprano Rachel Arky performed the female role and tenor Pavel Suliandziga performed the male part. Mr. Suliandziga was featured in our very first Around the World in Song singing Tchaikovsky.

Ms. Arky has been on our radar screen for several years. She made a fine Papagena as a guest artist with Career Bridges (having previously won an award) and we recall her Gianetta in Bare Opera's L'elisir d'Amore. The two made a fine pair with some beautiful harmonic blending in this melodic duet.

Ms. Pruzhansky also shared a solo piano work entitled AM New York which describes a day in New York in a manner that brought to mind Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue. But in her composition, the day began with a jangling alarm clock followed by some unhappy chords in the piano. We enjoyed this colorful work immensely.

We were also delighted to hear Swedish songbird Alexandra Linde once more since she had performed some charming Swedish folk songs on the same program as Mr. Suliandziga. Last night she "put on her opera hat" to perform "Linee" an aria from Luigi Porto's Anita Di Laguna, with which we are unfamiliar. She was accompanied by pianist Ruoting Li.

Also on the program was a soprano from the Belgrade Opera, Snezana Savicic Sekulic who demonstrated a gorgeous upper register in "O Mio Babbino Caro" from Puccini's Gianni Schicchi. She also performed Rachmaninoff's haunting "Ne Poy Krasavitsa Pri Mne" and we would have preferred a simpler delivery than that used in opera.  We might have enjoyed Villa Lobos' "Melodia Sentimental" more if she had not been obscured by a music stand. With its elaborate fioritura Arditi's "Il Bacio" was a good selection for showing off her consummate coloratura.

The remainder of the program was instrumental and, above all, we favored the refined guitar artistry of Serbian Nemanja Bogunovic whose connection with his instrument is so intense that we thought he must eat, drink, and sleep with it. With each successive selection we thought "Oh that's my favorite"! There was incredible variety of rhythm and mood from one piece to the next and each one dazzled in a different way.

He not only composes for his guitar but also arranges his music for a string quintet that lay down a carpet of sound as a worthwhile background for his guitar.

Pianist Jasna Popovic delighted us with the filigree of Barcelo's "La Grandalla". Pianist Ruoting Li began the evening with Kostabi's "Italian Summer", an accessible piece that started off with a riff on Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" from his Ninth Symphony. This made more sense to our ears than "Away" by Pritsker.

Krstajic's composition "Zasp'o Janko" contained the most delightful folk tune that was ruined for us by amplification, as was the romantic "Solo Una Noche".  They were performed by "vocalist" Tamara Jokic about whom we have nothing to say. Amplified voices just hurt our ears; that being said, the audience seemed to enjoy both her and the accompanying jazz band.

In sum, it was a worthwhile evening and filled with delights--above all hearing music that was new to us.

© meche kroop

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