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.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019


Matthew Pearce, Tamara Banješević, Katerina Burton, Shereen Pimentel, Courtenay Cleary,
and Cameron Richardson-Eames

Last night we attended Cameron Richardson-Eames' Master of Music recital at Juilliard and we were rewarded with a night of magnificent music making. We know Mr. Richardson-Eames mainly through his performances with students from the Vocal Arts Program and had never really considered that collaborative pianists play with other instrumentalists. We are happy to report that this one "plays well with others".

We thrilled to his performance of César Franck's Sonata for Violin and Piano in A Major; the violinist was the superlative Courtenay Cleary and did they ever make music together! The first movement, Allegretto ben moderato opened with some descending arpeggi of minor triads which soon yielded to a theme of descending scales. These two themes would reappear periodically knitting the work together with a feeling of unity and familiarity. The overall emotion was one of nostalgia.

The Allegro which followed opened with some rumbling in the piano, leading to a veritable storm of anxiety. There was an "eye" to this hurricane but the storm recurred with increased passion.

The third movement (Ben moderato) seemed reflective to us and we liked the liquid manner in which the arpeggi reappeared in the piano, whilst the violin was given some lovely trills.

The fourth movement reminded us of a vocal duet in which the piano and violin each had a different melody with both contributing to a whole that was greater than the sum of the parts. In no way do we consider ourself to be knowledgeable about piano technique but we know artistry when we hear it because we get "the feels".

The second half of the program was on more familiar territory for us since Mr. Richardson-Eames collaborated with four different singers, singing four different styles of song, readily demonstrating his adaptability.

Soprano Katerina Burton, just reviewed a few days ago for some lovely performances of Joseph Marx lieder, has a real feel for this composer and sang "Hat dich die Liebe berührt" and "Nocturne" in which the interludes of rippling in the piano tickled the ear. Ms. Burton's voice opened like an umbrella at the top giving us tons of overtones. We cannot wait to see how Juilliard will polish this particular gem.

Already polished and enjoying a fine career overseas, Tamara Banješević was on hand to perform a pair of songs by Henri Duparc. Chansons can get a bit effete but not these! We have missed hearing Ms. Banješević and found her presence last night to be a very pleasant surprise. "Chanson triste" sounded splendid with the two artists in lovely harmony, both of them expressive and making good use of dynamic variety. "L'invitation au voyage" was performed with almost indecent sensuality and we loved it!

Tenor Matthew Pearce performed two songs in English from the early 20th c. We didn't get much out of Herbert Howells' "The Goat Paths" with its simple vocal line which didn't stay with us, and its spare accompaniment. We preferred the rather silly "I have twelve oxen" by John Ireland, a strophic song that sounded like a folk song. The rhythm was fun and Mr. Pearce has a lovely high register achieved without pushing, and an admirable clarity of diction.

The program ended with soprano Shereen Pimentel singing two songs from Stephen Schwartz' 2003 Wicked--"The Wizard and I" and "I'm Not That Girl". We would far prefer to hear these songs than what passes for contemporary "art song". Ms. Pimentel has incredible stage presence and a lively personality best suited to songs that require dramatic intent. We once sat through Wicked on Broadway, with teeth clenched against the cruel amplification, unable to understand the words. Last night we heard the songs unamplified and could appreciate the artistry of the composition as well as the artistry of Ms. Pimentel's performance.

It was a perfect way to end the recital and we left completely satisfied. Mr. Richardson-Eames demonstrated his artistry and flexibility and is a credit to his teacher, the highly esteemed Brian Zeger.

(c) meche kroop

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