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 12, 2014


Amanda Lynn Bottoms, Aaron Mor, and Kelsey Lauritano

Three singers from the Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts coached by Cameron Stowe showed their stuff yesterday and what fine stuff it was!  These lieder recitals at Juilliard offer an incredible opportunity to hear the stars of tomorrow.  The liederabend gives them the chance to try out material in front of an audience and to work with students from the Collaborative Piano Division.

Tenor Aaron Mor exhibited an interesting darkish colored tenor as he performed a trio of songs by Franz Schubert, a composer whose songwriting gifts have never been equalled.  The three he selected are not as well known as the more famous ones but they were no less lovely.  Collaborative pianist Kristen Doering opened the set with "Die Sterne" in which she successfully emphasized the pattern in the piano which rises through several successive keys.

The song is filled with beautiful imagery of the night sky and we enjoyed Mr. Mor's lovely phrasing. "Vor meiner Wiege" is a more disturbing song with text by the same poet (Karl Gottfried von Leitner) drawing an analogy between the cradle and the coffin.  Mr. Mor successfully captured the nuances.  But it was the poetry of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe which inspired Schubert to write such gorgeous music for "Auf dem See".

There were two excellent mezzo-sopranos on the program and we were so pleased to note that they sounded very different from one another.  We confess we get bored with voices that sound generic.

Amanda Lynn Bottoms, accompanied by Joel Harder's sensitive playing, commanded the stage with the captivating texture of her dusky instrument.  The vibrato struck us as just right and she used gesture successfully to illuminate Arnold Schoenberg's difficult songs, particularly the mysterious "Erwartung" with text by Richard Dehmel, who also contributed the poetry for the equally elusive "Jesus Bettelt" and "Erhebung".

Somewhat more accessible were the songs of Hugo Wolf from his Spanisches Liederbuch sung by the expressive Kelsey Lauritano, accompanied by the similarly expressive Edward Kim.  In "Klinge, klinge, mein Pandero" his fingers literally flew over the keys.

Ms. Lauritano connected well with the material and we particularly enjoyed "Sie blasen zum Abmarsch" in which a woman despairs over her lover's departure for battle.  "Dereinst, dereinst, Gedanke mein" and "Bedeckt mich mit Blumen" are sad songs about death so we were glad the program ended with the charming "Wer tat deinem Füsslein weh?".

Notable in Ms. Lauritano's performance was her superb German diction.  It is nearly universal among young singers to be afraid of the final "ch"; Ms. Lauritano's pronunciation was absolutely perfect.

All told, it was a fine recital.  If you have not yet experienced one of these monthly events, we urge you to attend.  Tickets are free and available online.

© meche kroop

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