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.

Saturday, March 15, 2014


Bryan Wagorn, Lachlan Glen, Yunpeng Wang, Mary-Jane Lee
We get accustomed to hearing a favorite piece of music and we sit smugly waiting to have our taste reconfirmed.  But occasionally we are presented with this piece of music and hear it more intensely; the work doesn't have to be performed in a radically different way but we are so marked by the performance that we want to keep that performance close to our hearts and not have it spoiled by a further hearing of lesser quality.  We suppose one could call this a "definitive" performance.

Such was the case last night at a Lindemann recital when baritone Yunpeng Wang and pianist Lachlan Glen performed Gustav Mahler's Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen.  Such was the resonance between these two gifted artists, both in their first year in the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, that we were caught breathless and shaken to the core. 

Mr. Wang's large round sound was even throughout his range and exhibited great power in the low notes; the word coloring was impressive--"traurig" was never sadder, nor "süss" ever sweeter nor "dunkles" ever darker.  Mr. Glen's piano milked every drop of emotion and color from these songs, painting an aural picture in a perfectly modulated performance that evoked birdsong and sunshine, the woe of loss, a silvery laugh, and ultimately the peace of acceptance at the end, trailing off into sleep.  It was stunning.

This astonishingly well-matched pair of artists also did a fine job with two selections from Franz Liszt's Tre sonetti di Petrarca--the tumultuous "Pace non trovo" and the sweet "I vidi in terra angelici costumi".  Mr. Wang's Italian was just as perfect as his German and Mr. Glen is just a beautiful beast at the piano. 

By no means do we mean to give short shrift to the other superb pair on the program.  Bryan Wagorn's artistry at the piano is remarkable and we have delighted in it for his three years as a Lindemann artist.  He has a special skill for collaboration with a variety of singers and tonight he played with soprano Mary-Jane Lee who appears to have a splendid career ahead of her.  She has it all--glamorous good looks and a voice of distinctive timbre, sounding at times like a mezzo with ringing top notes.  She sang Richard Strauss' Vier Letzte Lieder in which the composer set texts by Herman Hesse and Joseph Karl von Eichendorff, the last three of which are about sleep, dying, loss and mourning.  We wondered if the composer's choices were influenced by his anticipation of his own life ending.

Ms. Lee sang them well, exhibiting the beautiful high notes that Strauss loved so well and some lovely melismatic singing.  Mr. Wagorn's postlude in "Im Abendrot" was a work of art in and of itself.  The performance was very different from the spirited performance of Benjamin Britten's Cabaret Songs, setting of texts by W. H. Auden.  It seemed to us that Ms. Lee had as much fun singing them as Britten did setting them; she really knows how to get a song across with charm and style.  We found Auden's texts a bit frivolous and awkward in their scanning and rhymes but perhaps not meant to be taken seriously.

© meche kroop


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