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, May 12, 2013


Vira Slywotzky, Scott Murphree, Richard Pearson Thomas, Jesse Blumberg
Yes, music is food for the soul and last night at Weill Recital Hall we not only had our taste buds stimulated but we felt deeply satisfied and well nourished by Concert à la Carte, a recital of songs inspired by food.  It is "rare" to experience a recital as pure fun but this one was so "well done" that we can think of no better word to describe it.

Presented by Mirror Visions Ensemble, under the direction of Tobé Malawista, our only criticism was that the program was too short.  We would have welcomed a second half.  Not that any courses were missing.  Not that we left hungry.  It was just like a delicious meal where you want a second helping even though you are satisfied.

The singers included soprano Vira Slywotzky, just reviewed for her winning performance as Madame Paula in LOONY's Sweethearts, tenor Scott Murphree known from NYFOS and baritone Jesse Blumberg who is well known for his 5BMF, Five Boroughs Music Festival.  They were joined by Naho Parrini on the violin, Katherine Cherbas on the cello and Richard Pearson Thomas on the piano. 

Mr. Thomas was also the composer of the final work on the program, a cantata in celebration of sustainable food entitled Clean Plates Don't Lie.  This was a delightful piece of music with plentiful melodic invention and interesting weaving of voices with the strings.  We are always tickled by the skewering of people's obsessions and in this case the entire "farm to table" movement was gently satirized.  We heard arias, recitatives, a passacaglia, a fugue, choruses and a chorale with gorgeous harmonies.  The text comprised lists of ingredients from the menu of a well known restaurant which champions sustainable eating. 

Other songs were no less fun.  We have always loved Cole Porter's "Come to the Supermarket in Old Peking", sung by the trio.  Stephen Schwartz's "Bread" from The Baker's Wife, also sung by the trio, had some enormously clever internal rhymes and made everyone's mouth water.  (Isn't English a great language for clever rhymes?)

"Tango du Dessert" by Christopher Culpo was nothing more than a recitation of the flavors of sorbet at Berthillon.  Mmm!  This was commissioned by Mirror Visions Ensemble and a worthy addition to the program.  Another personal favorite was Leonard Bernstein's "Tavouk Gueunksis" from La Bonne Cuisine, merely a recipe for breast of hen but with music that sounded to our ears a bit like Ravel's Don Quichotte à Dulcinée. Mr. Blumberg sang it with panache.  Betty Crocker's mid 20th c. recipe for Tuna Supreme was the text for Mr. Thomas' other contribution to the program.  Hearing what people ate 63 years ago was a hoot.  Perhaps it's time to stop writing and whip up a batch!

© meche kroop

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