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.

Friday, October 11, 2013


Ari Livne and Takaoki Onishi
No way!  We just cannot get enough of Takaoki Onishi's burnished baritone.  We have occasionally said of a singer that he/she could sing the phonebook but this pagan has NEVER admired anyone for singing the bible.   But there is Taka onstage at Juillliard making vocal sense of Brahms' Vier ernste Gesänge, Op. 121.  The texts are grim and moralistic (taken from Ecclesiastes and Corinthians) but Taka's gorgeous instrument, intense involvement with the text and clearly understandable German made the experience a highly worthwhile one.  In "Denn es gehet dem Menschen wie dem Vieh" we thrilled to the resonant sounds in his lower register.

The event was a recital of collaborative piano with Ari Livne at the piano, working sensitively with three different artists in an all Brahms program.  He was joined by the excellent Matthew Lipman on viola for the Sonata for Viola and Piano in E-flat Major, Op. 120 #2.  In the Allegro amabile, piano and violin were equally melodic.  But it was in the Allegro appassionato that we were swept away.  The familiar melody seems like a folk song begging for words and the rapid switches between major and minor played havoc with our emotions.  One wonders how Clara was able to resist!

Mr. Livne was joined by the fine clarinetist Jonathan Cohen for the Sonata for Clarinet and Piano in f minor, Op. 120, #1.  The first movement was tempestuous and the second melancholy.  It was a fine performance.

Mr. Livne also had the opportunity for some solo playing in Vier Klavierstücke, Op. 119, comprising three Intermezzi and one Rhapsody.  The variations in mood and color were, well, music to our ears.  Gentle dreamy melodies gave way to frisky rhythms.  The closing Rhapsody in E-flat Major was energentic and forceful.  It was a most satisfying evening of music.

© meche kroop

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