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Symphony
MENDELSSOHN'S SCOTTISH SAVES THE EVENING IN SRS WEILL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Monday, February 11, 2019
The audience entering Weill Hall for Santa Rosa Symphony concerts Feb. 9-11 were presented with a program that on first glance appeared a curious patchwork – a great symphony mixed with a seldom heard concerto and two disparate overtures, and a guest conductor unknown locally. Monday night’s concer...
Recital
INTRIGUING BELL-HAYWOOD RECITAL BEFORE FULL HOUSE IN WEILL HALL
by Abby Wasserman
Friday, February 08, 2019
A big portion of the capacity audience in Weill Hall February 8th came to hear violinist Joshua Bell’s virtuosity, and were treated as well to splendid playing from Sam Haywood, Mr. Bell’s regular pianist since 2010. The duo performed three engaging sonatas, highlighted by Mr. Bell’s sterling techn...
Symphony
TRIPLE PLAY UKIAH SYMPHONY CONCERT AND TCHAIKOVSKY SERENADE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 27, 2019
Over the years the Ukiah Symphony’s concerts have been in the Classical Sonoma Calendar sections, but rarely has this Orchestra, now in its 39th season, had a full winter season concert review. The provocative Jan. 27 program in Mendocino College’s Center Theater seemed a good reason to reacquaint ...
Symphony
JACKSON THEATER WELCOMES A NEW RESIDENT ORCHESTRA
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, January 26, 2019
Moving to a permanent new performance venue can be a perilous undertaking for an orchestra, with different acoustics, the loyal audience finding the new spot and infrastructure challenges of lighting and lobby and backstage operations. In their first concert Jan. 26 in Windsor’s Jackson Theater the...
Symphony
ECLECTIC PASSIONATE PROGRAMMING AT MARIN SYMPHONY CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, January 26, 2019
The Marin Symphony’s second Masterworks concert of the 2018-19 season featured works by John Adams, Sibelius and Brahms, a masterful assembly. In a spoken introduction before the program’s first half, conductor Alasdair Neale primed the audience for the “terra incognita” of Adams’ The Chairman Dance...
Symphony
A SLICE OF HEAVEN FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 13, 2019
Under its vibrant new music director, Francesco Lecce-Chong, the Santa Rosa Symphony this past Sunday offered a nearly perfect afternoon of Mozart (Symphony No. 40) and Mahler (Symphony No. 4). While the two works share a common digit, the only element uniting them is genius. They made for a dazzlin...
Recital
KHOZYAINOV'S BRILLIANT PIANISM IN MILL VALLEY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, January 13, 2019
In its third concert of the season the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society Jan. 13 presented Russian virtuoso Nikolay Khozyainov. His intelligent and sensitive interpretations, masterful pedal work, and virtuoso technique left the near-capacity audience in Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church astounded and ...
Chamber
A COMPLETE MUSICAL PACKAGE IN ARRON'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, January 10, 2019
Cellist Edward Arron has been a welcome artist at the Music at Oakmont series, and after his Jan. 10 recital it’s easy to understand his popularity. His artistry is a complete package, with potent instrumental technique wedded to integral musical conceptions. In a nearly flawless concert with pian...
Choral and Vocal
COMPELLING WEILL HALL MESSIAH ORATORIO FROM THE ABS
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, December 15, 2018
Each holiday season when a Classical Sonoma reviewer is assigned to cover a concert with Handel’s seminal Oratorio The Messiah, the question arises about what new commentary can possibly apply to the often performed choral work. Well, if it’s the American Bach Soloists performing the piece, written...
Opera
PURCELL'S DIDO IN YOUTHFUL SSU OPERA
by Abby Wasserman
Wednesday, December 05, 2018
A doomed royal love affair, the theme of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, was brought to lovely life at Sonoma State University Dec. 5 in the school’s Schroeder Hall. Conducted by faculty member Zachary Gordin, who also played continuo, the performance was only the second opera production presented by the...
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.