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Symphony
SO CO PHIL BON VOYAGE CONCERT AN ODYSSEY OF CONTRASTING SOUND
by Terry McNeill
Friday, June 15, 2018
In a splashy bon voyage concert June 15 the Sonoma County Philharmonic Orchestra launched its June 17-25 Costa Rica tour, performing gratis in Santa Rosa’s Jackson Theater the repertoire for tour concerts in San José, Costa Rica’s capital, and in surrounding towns. Conductor Norman Gamboa pr...
Chamber
COMMANDING CHOPIN AND DEBUSSY IN SLV RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, June 06, 2018
Concerts at the classy Spring Lake Village Retirement Home in Santa Rosa have admission limited to residents and a few guests, but the chance to hear a first cabin North Bay pianist June 6 brought a Classical Sonoma reviewer into the audience of 100. The crowd numbers were unusually low due to a ba...
Recital
MUSICAL ALCHEMY INSIDE A HIDDEN GEM
by Kayleen Asbo
Friday, May 25, 2018
The Petaluma Historical Library and Museum is a hidden gem of Sonoma County, a gracious building that is one of Sonoma County’s loveliest venues for chamber music concerts, with a fine period piano particularly suited to Romantic music.  Of the surprisingly large array of festivities there, one of t...
Chamber
FINAL VOM MUSICIANS CONCERT IN SCHROEDER A SCHUBERT DELIGHT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, May 12, 2018
It's rare to have the opportunity to compare in a short period two performances of the same major Schubert work, in this case the great B Flat Piano Trio, D. 898. The chance came May 12 when the Valley of the Moon Festival musicians played it in Schroeder, just over a month since the Hall’s residen...
Symphony
FERRANDIS BIDS ADIEU WITH MAHLER’S FINAL SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, May 06, 2018
Sonoma State students in graduation robes posed for pictures and hugged each other at the university’s stone gates on Sunday afternoon, mirroring the prolonged farewells within the university’s Green Music Center, where Bruno Ferrandis bid adieu to the Santa Rosa Symphony after a dozen years at the ...
Symphony
SONIC SPLENDOR AT MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON FINALE
by Abby Wasserman
Tuesday, May 01, 2018
The Marin Symphony Orchestra ended the current season with a flourish, interpreting big and small works by Richard Strauss and Stravinsky. Strauss and Stravinsky were contemporaries for 40 years, but inhabited different worlds. Both composers were affected by cataclysmic changes and war, and musical...
Symphony
ORGAN SYMPHONY IN SSU ORCHESTRA CONCERT IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 29, 2018
Though Classical Sonoma seldom reviews student concerts, as ample North Coast concerts keep the staff of 11 reviewers busy. But the chance to hear the Sonoma State University Orchestra tackle St. Saëns’ majestic Organ Symphony April 29 was a rare opportunity and not easily to be missed. Avec l’...
Recital
HEAVENLY SCHUBERT AND DEMONIC CHOPIN
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 21, 2018
One of the anomalies in the long ago “Golden Era” of romantic pianism (about 1905 to 1940) is that the virtuoso giants of the time didn’t play Schubert. It took the German pianist Artur Schnabel to bring the beauties of Schuber’s work to the public’s attention, and now they seem to be on almost ever...
Symphony
SPLENDID JUPITER AND ZOOMING CONCERTO AT VALLEJO SYMPHONY SEASON FINALE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 15, 2018
Over the past two years the Vallejo Symphony has made big changes, moving from a stark middle school auditorium to the snazzy remodeled 1911-era downtown Empress Theater, and engaging Marc Taddei as its seventh conductor. April 15 was the season’s final concert of the 86th season. In a programmin...
Chamber
VIRTUOSO CELLO AND GUITAR TRANSCRIPTIONS AT RAC SEBASTOPOL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 14, 2018
Listeners and yes even music critics usually prepare for a concert with research, checking recorded performances, looking at artist biographies and even reviewing sheet music. This was a difficult task for the April 14 Redwood Arts Council concert in Sebastopol’s Community Church, as the performers...
RECITAL REVIEW
MasterCard Performance Series / Sunday, April 13, 2014
Deborah Voigt, soprano. Brian Zeger, piano

Soprano Deborah Voigt

DRAMATIC DIVA SINGS WORKS OF AMERICAN COMPOSERS IN WEILL

by Vaida Falconbridge
Sunday, April 13, 2014

After opening her April 13 Weill Hall recital with the bright “The Year’s at the Spring,” probably Amy Beach’s best-known song, soprano Deborah Voigt paused for a moment to say to the audience, “When we were putting the program together, we had no idea it would be so apropos!” Continuing with the other two songs in the Op. 44 set with lyrics by Robert Browning, listeners got a foretaste of the thick, rich and steely-brilliant tone that we were to enjoy for the next hour and a half, as well as the charm, humor, and wit that exude from this justly-celebrated American diva.

Beach was the first successful American female composer of large-scale art music, although she was best known for her 150 songs. A fine pianist as well, her song accompaniments are calculated to demand exceptional skills from any pianist partnering with a singer, and Brian Zeger proved to be a superb and flawless fellow artist at the piano throughout the afternoon.

The second set on the program featured two songs from Tchaikovsky’s Seven Romances, Op. 47, composed in 1880. Ms. Voigt performed No. 6, wherein the hero declares that no matter what the external world brings, love is all that matters, and No.7, in which a young girl expresses her sorrow at being betrothed to an older man she does not love, comparing herself to a little blade of grass mowed down in the field. The combination of the swirling, challenging piano part and the great swells of passionate vocal phrasing was an especially effective showcase for Ms. Voigt’s warm, rich, focused midrange.

Finishing out the first half was a group of five Richard Strauss songs, a composer for whom she has a special affinity and whose music has been a stellar part of her career. One standout was “Schlechtes Wetter” (“Bad Weather”) which told a cute little story of a mother going out in a dark, cold storm to buy ingredients to bake a cake for her chubby little daughter lying at home in a warm armchair. “Lob des Leidens,” Op. 15, No. 3, was particularly memorable for the unstoppable torrents of gorgeous sound pouring out of Ms. Voigt’s throat. All in all, it was a superlative set showcasing the music’s variety of intensity and color.

The second half opened with an unexpected pleasure, eliciting audible “oohs,” “aahs” and extra applause from the audience: the singer walked onto the stage wearing a stunning cream-colored “diva” gown that was a throwback to old Hollywood glamor, with generous swaths of draping and a large glittering sequined medallion at the waist.

Ben Moore was the next composer, and his compositions have been called brilliant and gorgeously lyrical by critics, with praise for the “easy tunefulness” and “romantic sweep” of his songs. The four sung here ran the gamut of lush to poignant to humorous, with perfectly clear diction and mood projection on Ms. Voigt’s part.

William Bolcom has been quoted as wanting to erase boundaries between popular and art music. Hence, his “Cabaret Songs” have been popular with singers, three of which Ms. Voigt sang to a warm reception. She encouraged the audience from the stage, “Please don’t look at your programs. It’ll be a test of my diction!” We heard “George,” “At the Last Lousy Moments of Love” (its mood of indignation adorned with highly interesting vocal effects including grit and growls) and the humorous “Toothbrush Time.” All the words were clear as a bell.

The final set featured six songs by Leonard Bernstein, again with a wide range of moods and styles, displaying the full panoply of Ms. Voigt’s vocal range, colors and textures. She negotiates her low range so skillfully that you might be forgiven for thinking you were hearing a top-notch mezzo. There was a short and charming “patter song” titled “Piccola serenata,” the bluesy “It’s gotta be bad to be good” from the Broadway musical On the Town, after which the artist wittily interjected, “Not the sort of song you’d expect Brunnhilde to sing!” The set and recital ended with the beautifully introspective yet grand “Somewhere” from West Side Story, evoking an enthusiastic standing ovation.

There were two encores, neither of which was at all conventional. The first was Irving Berlin’s “I Love a Piano” wherein Ms. Voigt sang all the charming words, and then topped it off by sitting down at the keyboard with Mr. Zeger and playing a honkytonk piano duo with him, and then topped THAT off by turning to the audience and winking at everyone while she was still tickling the ivories The second encore was Jerome Kern’s “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man” from the musical Showboat. Starting the song out croony, then belty, and ending operatically grand, Ms. Voigt showed herself to be an artist at the peak of her powers, who knows exactly what she wants to say, and the best way to say it.