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, December 13, 2013


Raquel Gonzalez, Nicolette Mavroleon, Tyler Zimmerman, Benjamin Lund, Joseph Eletto and Takaoki Onishi
For lovers of Russian music, Juilliard was the place to be last night. The greater part of the Liederabend was devoted to Russian songs sung by students from the Ellen and James S. Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts and Collaborative Piano Departments, all coached by the gifted pianist/coach Natalia Katyukova who made sure that every participant was on top of his/her game.  It added so much to the experience that each singer introduced him/herself and spoke a little about the songs he/she would sing.  Russian composers and songs are not as well known as German and French songs so the education was most welcome.

Bass-baritone Tyler Zimmerman introduced his songs by explaining which came from the classical period and which from the romantic period.  All were beautifully handled with full emotional value given to the pessimism of the Russian soul.  Edward Kim's collaborative piano was subtly supportive as the melancholy of the Dargomyzhsky gave way to the high drama in the Taneyev.

Soprano Nicolette Mavroleon's songs by Prokofiev came from a later period and we are pleased to report that there was no shortage of melody.  We loved the way her voice opened up in the upper register. Kyung Hee Kim's piano was supportive all the way and one could hear the throbbing of the heart in the final song "The Grey-Eyed King".

The Sviridov songs belonged clearly to the 20th c. and were infinitely more melodic than most music of the period.  Accompanied by Zsolt Balogh, baritone Joseph Eletto used his fine voice with great connection to the text, be it sad ("The Bride") or strange ("O homeland").

The most familiar songs of the evening were those of Rachmaninoff, sung by baritone Takaoki Onishi who throws his powerful voice and deep feeling into everything he sings.  Before singing, he told about his coaching with Obratsova in Japan and related how he would like to sing these songs for her.  To our ears, he sounded very inspired in "I was with her", "The Dream", and best of all "Spring torrents".  Raymond Wong was his fine piano partner.

Before moving on to more Russian pleasures, we must give full credit to the non-Russian part of the Liederabend.  Stellar soprano Raquel Gonzalez sang in two dialects that looked rather strange on the page of translations but, to our ears, sounded very recognizable.  Osvaldo Golijov's "Lúa Descolorida" was sung in Galician (from NW Spain) and gave Ms. G. an opportunity to vocalize in the stratospheric upper register and also to give full measure to the low notes.  Three selections from Canteloube's lovely Chants d'Auvergne, sung in Occitan (a dialect of French) ended on a humorous note.  Ari Livne was her excellent piano partner.

Last but not least were some 20th c. songs of Guastavino, sung by baritone Benjamin Lund, accompanied by Jung A. Bang.  Mr. Lund described the marriage of folk melody, dance rhythms and romantic stylings achieved by this composer known as "the Argentinian Schubert".  His delivery absolutely lived up to the description, even employing the Argentinian pronunciation.  "La rosa y el sauce" was particularly moving.
Maestro Larry Rachleff and pianist Hanbo Liu

Returning now to the Russian theme, we followed our delightful introduction to Russian songs with another Juilliard event at Alice Tully Hall where the Juilliard Orchestra was conducted by the expressive Larry Rachleff who has hands you cannot take your eyes off--unless you were watching the equally agile hands of pianist Hanbo Liu who gave a passionate reading of Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18.  The melodies were lavish and tumbled out one after the other, passing gracefully from orchestra to piano and back again.  We were thinking how vocal these melodies were, after hearing Mr. Onishi's Rachmaninoff songs an hour earlier.  And then we read the program notes.  Looks like that idea was not original! Lovers of popular music may have recognized what I missed.

The Rachmaninoff was followed by Dvořák's impressive Symphony No. 7 in D minor, largely inspired by Brahms and lacking the nationalistic character of the so-called Symphony of the New World.

© meche kroop

No comments:

Post a Comment