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, October 22, 2012


Franz Schubert in Youth
Born 3 years before the advent of the 19th c. the young Schubert, here depicted, wrote 140 songs in 1815 alone!  It seems the music just poured out of him; in similar fashion the music seemed to pour out of the young artists onstage last night as Schubert&Co. continued their year-long exploration of his entire vocal oeuvre.  The series is not only entertaining but also educational as Lachlan Glen, one of the series' two Artistic Directors, generously shared his love and appreciation for the music.  Focusing on settings of poetry by Ludwig Gotthard Kosegarten, Friedrich Leopold, Alexander Pope, Colley Cibber and Abraham Cowley, the final three having been translated into German, many of the lieder are on the theme of nature.  Although Schubert had requested the German translations to follow the syllabification of the original English, it is clear, as Mr. Glen pointed out, that the accents fall in different places.  We were happy to hear them sung in German which suits the music better.

The program began and ended with the lovely Australian soprano Simone Easthope who delighted us with her shimmery voice that created a perfect picture in the mind's eye.  We especially enjoyed "Daphne am Bach, D.411" which had a familiar sound, reminding us of "Die Forelle" and "Auf dem Wasser zu singen, D.774" a strophic lied with many shifts between major and minor, and the only song of the evening that we had previously heard.

Being introduced to tenor Nils Neubert was an unexpected treat.  Mr. Neubert has an incredibly sweet voice and the choice of songs with sweet melodies was a wise one.  We particularly enjoyed "Alles um Liebe, D.241" and observed that he had no trouble with the low notes at the ends of some of the other songs.  We also enjoyed the optimism of "Der Blinde Knabe, D.833" and enjoyed his appealing vibrato.

Bass-baaritone Andrew Bogard has a sturdy voice and we loved the way he evinced some unexpected tenderness without sacrificing the tone, especially in the joyful song of love fulfilled "Das Finden D.219"; we also noted his way with humor in "Der Weiberfreund, D.271".

Soprano Julia Bullock sounded best in the relatively more cheerful songs "Morgenlied, D.266" and "Abendlied, D.276".

Mr. Glen was the piano partner for all four singers, playing with his customary sensitivity and terrific technique.  His playing was most powerful in "Verkl√§rung D.59" and most notable in the final piece "Auf dem Wasser zu singen, D.774" in which one could hear the waves and almost feel the water.

This was the only performance of the series to take place in the new Opera Center on Seventh Avenue.  The room was perfectly intimate with superlative acoustics and a fine piano.  We noticed several studios and performance spaces and would like to learn more about the space.  Next Sunday's 6PM recital will return to  Central Presbyterian Church at 64th and Park Avenue.  Another winner, for sure!

(c) meche kroop

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