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, January 16, 2015


Kenneth Merrill and Diana Yodzis

To some folk, two recitals in one day would be excessive but we confess to gluttony where music is concerned.  Our first event, as part of "The Song Continues" at the Weill Recital Hall of Carnegie Hall, was a most enjoyable recital by a lovely young soprano named Diana Yodzis.  She employed her pleasing bright soprano to serenade the audience in a varied program.  As she gradually moved away from the piano, she let go and revealed her engaging personality.

She began with Rossini's La regata veneziana which we always love to hear.  It gives the singer an opportunity to express, in turn, anticipation, anxiety, excitement and relief.  This was readily accomplished by Ms. Yodzis; we felt as if we were living through the gondola race ourself.

Hugo Wolf is a more challenging composer with less obvious vocal lines.  His Mignon songs are not nearly as melodic as those set by Schubert but always worth hearing. Word coloring was well employed and the sad story was given ample expressiveness. Our sole (and rather minor) criticism is the singer's insecurity (typical of many American singers) with the final "ich" which is often left unvoiced or pronounced as "ick".  This is a minor flaw and easy to correct.  Otherwise, her German was excellent, particularly with the umlaut.

A trio of songs by Duparc were song beautifully with nicely phrased long even lines. We particularly enjoyed "Phidylé". French diction was fine.

A recital given under the auspices of Ms. Horne would not be complete without a set of American  songs.  The selections from Aaron Copland's Old American Songs were well chosen and we especially enjoyed Ms. Yodzis' rendition of "I Bought Me a Cat".

Kenneth Merrill was a fine supportive piano partner who subtly pulled back the volume whenever the vocal line entered.  Great work!

As encore, the artist dedicated "La Vie en Rose" to her fiancĂ© who is serving in the military.  We couldn't help thinking that this fortunate young man will find himself with a beautiful and talented wife--a fine reward for serving our country!

Bryn Holdsworth, Adanya Dunn, Raphaella Medina, Juliana Han, Kirill Kuzmin, Miles Mykkanen, Robert Bosworth and Marilyn Horne

Still on a high from the lovely recital, we attended Marilyn Horne's Master Class in which four fine young singers had the rare opportunity to be coached by one of the 20th century's iconic singers.

When the singer sings the song initially, one wonders how it could possibly be improved.  And then Ms. Horne supplies the answer.  Her four young singers worked hard to implement her suggestions and reached a new level of accomplishment.

We are very familiar with tenor Miles Mykkanen's fine technique and outsize personality, but last night we heard a different side of him as he essayed Hugo Wolf's "Benedeit die sel'ge Mutter".  Ms. Horne had him work on being more reflective and tinkered with his dynamics to fine effect.  Robert Bosworth served as piano partner.

Mezzo-soprano Raphaella Medina worked on a gorgeous Spanish song by Fermin Maria Alvarez with whom we were unfamiliar.  "La Partida" has ample melismatic passages and stirring Spanish rhythms, the strictness of which Ms. Horne wanted observed. Incisive diction was another feature she emphasized.  Further, she encouraged Ms. Medina to use her arms.  The end result was a stirring performance, to which pianist Juliana Han added a great deal.

Soprano Adanya Dunn took the stage with a wonderful relaxed stage presence and delighted the audience with her engaging personality.  Ms. Horne guided her through Britten's "The Salley Gardens", slowing the tempo and encouraging some sentimentality to good effect.  We truly enjoyed her storytelling in Liszt's "Die Loreley".  Shifts in dynamics and tempi made the performance even better.  Kirill Kuzmin was her fine accompanist.

Soprano Bryn Holdsworth, accompanied by Robert Bosworth, performed Strauss' wonderful "Allerseelen".  Ms. Horne suggested that young people may not have experienced significant losses sufficient to convey the depth of feeling in the song (we beg to differ--loss is not confined to the elderly, nor to the middle-aged) and that a young singer would have to "act".  Ms. Holdsworth did just fine in this regard and brought tears to our eyes.  Ms. Horne worked with her on grounding and on steadying herself through the diaphragm.  There were places that she encouraged Ms. H. to be more reflective and more pianissimo.  This definitely added to the success of the performance.

It was truly a magnificent day--a "double header" of a day.

© meche kroop

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