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, March 3, 2013


Leave it to Schubert&Co. to discover an unrecognized cycle of songs--settings of poetry by Karl Wilhelm Friedrich von Schlegel.  As Co-Artistic Director Lachlan Glen explained, there is every evidence that Schubert intended these settings, composed around the same time as Die Schöne Müllerin, to be a cycle but they remained unpublished and not organized in an appropriate order at the time of Schubert's untimely death.  (One of the problems presented by this collection is the wide range of voicing; Mr. Glen solved this problem by dividing the songs amongst three singers with different ranges.) But we got to hear (and heart) them all last night at Central Presbyterian Church and so did you, if you took our advice.

Soprano Catherine Hancock has a winning bright sound and was pleasantly playful in the opening song "Der Schmetterling"; it is always delightful to see an artist enjoying herself to such an extent. Mezzo Kristin Gornstein has a brilliant upper register that would be the envy of any soprano, but has that chocolatey mezzo richness at the bottom.  We particularly enjoyed the wistful "Das Mädchen".  We would urge singers to pay more attention to the final "ch" and "ig" in their German.  Many American singers shy away from enunciating them and we wonder if it is fear of mispronouncing.  In any event, it is an easy flaw to correct.

Baritone Benjamin Bloomfield has no such problem.  He demonstrated different colors last night than he did the prior night.  We especially enjoyed the interesting mood changes in "Der Schiffer" and the peaceful feeling of "Der Wanderer".

Last night's guest pianist was Michael Brofman of the Brooklyn Art Song Society who distinguished himself by bringing out the Baroque leanings of "Vom Mitleiden Maria" and the references to nature in "Die Gebüsche" and "Im Walde".

(c) meche kroop

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