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, October 18, 2014


Raymond Wong and William Goforth
Yesterday we attended Juilliard's 168th Liederabend.  Have we attended all 168 of them?  No, but we wish we had because they are monthly treats we heartily anticipate.  If you attend one of them, you will likely become a regular, such is the high quality of the performances.  To make the deal even sweeter, there is absolutely no charge whatsoever!  Even when we have an event to review at 7:30 (as we did Thursday night), we find it worth the effort to dash up to 65th St. for a delightful hour discovering the stars of tomorrow.  Then you can say "I heard him/her when he/she was a student" and be complimented for your perspicacity.

Yesterday's recital was the first of the year and we heard four voice students of great promise, all of whom we would love to hear again.  The four collaborative pianists were of equally impressive skill.  First on the program was William Goforth,  whose sweet tenor we recall fondly from last year.  Accompanied by Raymond Wong, the pair performed Beethoven's An die ferne Geliebte, an outpouring of German Romanticism but still carrying over much from the Classical Period.  These songs of romantic longing are performed without a break, relying on chord progressions to weave them together.  Mr. Goforth sang them in fine German with  admirable word coloring, possibly due to having translated the text himself.  

Mr. Goforth seemed to "taste" each word and we understand because we too love the taste of German in our mouth.  He increased the dramatic impact with dynamic variety.  As the cycle progressed his involvement grew and we felt drawn into the world of nature.  Mr. Wong contributed a great deal by emphasizing the changes to minor and back to major.  His light fingers created the sounds of nature--twittering birds and babbling brooks.  The three descending notes from "Wo die Berge so blau" have haunted us all night.

Soprano Onadek Winan has a nice ring to her voice, quite suitable for Richard Strauss.  She performed three songs from his Mädchenblumen and captured nicely the various moods of the flowers, representative of women-- the modest cornflower in "Kornblumen", the fiery poppy of "Mohnblumen" and the soulful ivy of "Epheu".  Mr. Strauss must have had a fine time limning the characterizations of all the various types of women he came across.  We confess to enjoying the fiery poppy the most.  Edward Kim was Ms. Winan's piano partner and fell right in with the three moods.

Marguerite Jones has a nice-sized mezzo and a facility for story telling which she used to play the role of Anzoleta encouraging her lover Momolo in a gondola race.  Rossini's La regatta veneziana requires a lot of intense excitement on the part of both pianist and singer.  Ms. Jones' personality carried the day; she sang in the Venetian dialect, as is customarily done.  Again, performing her own translations probably contributed to her success.  She produced three distinct moods in the three songs of the cycle.  We loved the rocking barcarole rhythm in HoJae Lee's piano.

Baritone Kurt Kanazawa, also remembered from last year, performed a cycle of songs by Guy Ropartz (a contemporary of Strauss) entitled Quatre poems d'apres L'Intermezzo d'Henri Heine.  (We guess that's what they call Heinrich in France!)  The Prelude and Postlude gave pianist  Kristen Doering a chance to shine and the four songs between were of unrelieved romantic despair; it was up to Mr. Kanazawa to provide some variety which he did by varying the dynamics and exploring the depth of feeling in the text.  The final song had the rhythm of a funeral march.  We know little of the composer and were not particularly impressed with the cycle.

We hoped to return to a more cheerful aspect with Kara Sainz and William Kelley performing Manuel de Falla's lively cycle Siete Canciones populares Espanolas but it was time to leave for Carnegie Hall to hear Luca Pisaroni.  So, we apologize to Ms. Sainz; we heard her last year and are sure she did a fine job.

© meche kroop

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