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 24, 2018


Nate Raskin, Zalman Kelber, Adrian Timpau, Gabriella Reyes de Ramírez

We have written extensively about the mission and accomplishments of the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, so let's just plunge right into yesterday's exciting recital. We confess that we are most receptive to a singer's artistry when we love the work he/she has chosen. Although we have sometimes been brought to appreciate a previously unloved work by a singer who can show us its worth, still we prefer to hear works that speak (sing) to us.

Schumann's Liederkreis, Op.39 is just such a work. Repeated hearings allow us to discover new ideas and feelings we may have overlooked. It is in Italian opera and German lieder that we can best appreciate the multiple features of a singer's artistry.

From the very first phrase sung by baritone Adrian Timpau we could assess that magical undefinable appeal that connects the singer with the audience, heart to heart. Mr. Timpau must love these songs and they fit his voice like a bespoke suit. The timbre is at times soothing and at other times forceful but there is always a connection with the material.

His German provided no opportunity for criticism. Vowels were round and resonant whilst consonants were crisp. We could understand every word without glancing at the program. Phrasing was lovely and there was ample dynamic variety.

This cycle tells no story--it is just a collection of splendid songs in different moods. Our favorite song is "Waldegespräch".  Mr . Timpau changed the warm color of his voice heard in "Intermezzo" to one of harshness as he sang the words of the rider in the forest who perhaps means no good toward the beautiful woman he comes upon, who just so happens to be the witch Lorelei. We could discern Mr. Timpau's intention to color their two voices differently but we sense that he could do just a little bit more to establish the man's character, whether he interprets him as seductive, well meaning, or evil. We would wish for a lighter color for the woman's voice.

In "Auf einer Burg" Mr. Timpau ensured that we saw through his eyes--the stone statuary and the abandoned hermitage.  Collaborative pianist Nate Raskin made sure that we heard, through his fingers, the rain, the woodland birds, and the musicians.  The performance was a revelation.

Mr. Raskin's piano was at all times in the moment. We loved the peaceful introduction to "Mondnacht" and the piano part of "Schöne Fremde". The searching melody in the piano created a spooky mood for Mr. Timpau's anxious verse in "Zwielicht". "Im Walde" was notable for the aural picture created by the artists--birds, hunting horns, and all.

We have one observation and perhaps a suggestion for Mr. Timpau. We noticed that he clasped his hands in a ministerial pose for the entire cycle. We would suggest that he loosen his grip and allow his hands to express what comes across so successfully in his voice.

Soprano Gabriella Reyes de Ramírez needs no such encouragement. Her body and face are as expressive as her large voice. The fine vibrato lent some serious overtones that we felt in the bones of our middle ear. The molecules in the room were dancing.

Her collaborative pianist Zalman Kelber was with her every step of the way. It's a fine voice for Strauss and we have no criticism of her German in the four selections we heard, but we enjoyed the Spanish more, probably because we don't get to hear it as often as we'd like.

Joaquín Turina's Poema en Forma de Canciones is a fine composition, filled with Andalusian flavor, so well captured by Ms. Ramírez and Mr. Kelber.  The Spanish rhythms of the lengthy piano introduction to "Nunca olvida" made us want to get up and dance.  

All the songs in this cycle are about love--disappointed love, ambivalent love, and love for the goddess Venus. Our favorite in this group was "Las locas por amor" when Venus turns down long term sensible love for brief mad passion! Yes indeed!

As much as we enjoyed these Spanish songs about love, we were over the moon for Ms. Ramírez' performance of "Carceleras" from the 1889 zarzuela Las Hijas del Zebedeo by Ruperto Chapí. In this song, the singer tells of her love for her sweetheart in extravagant metaphor. To say that Ms. Ramírez threw her all into this song is saying a lot; there is a lot of her and it is all wonderful!

(c) meche kroop

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