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Recital
GLITTERING PIANISM IN LI'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, April 11, 2019
Piano prodigies have always been a fascination for the music public, and the greatest of them (some were Mozart, Mendelssohn, Liszt, Saint Saëns, Hofmann) went on to legendary fame. George Li, who made is local debut at a Music at Oakmont recital April 11, was a remarkable recent keyboard prodigy t...
Symphony
SO CO PHIL'S SEASON CLOSER WITH EXPANSIVE PROKOFIEV 5TH IN JACKSON
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 07, 2019
Closing their 20th season with their usual programming aplomb, the Sonoma County Philharmonic played a provocative set of concerts April 6 and 7 in the Jackson Theater, the Orchestra’s new home at the Sonoma Country Day School by the Sonoma County Airport. Local composer Nolan Gasser’s Sonoma Overt...
Choral and Vocal
SISTINE CHAPEL INSPIRATION FOR THE TALLIS SCHOLARS IN WEILL HALL
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, April 05, 2019
Returning to Weill Hall April 5 after a seven year absence, the ten singers of the Tallis Scholars brought the sacred choral tradition of Palestrina and his contemporaries to an audience of delighted music lovers. Under the direction of Peter Phillips, the 1973 founder of the group, the program was...
Symphony
AUTUMNAL SIBELIUS 7TH HIGHLIGHTS VSO'S SEASON CLOSING CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 31, 2019
Closing their 87th Season March 30 and 31 the Vallejo Symphony has moved from a single weekend concert to a set of two, and the late March response was two full houses in the charming downtown Vallejo Empress Theater. Conductor Marc Taddei opened the Sunday program with a rousing performance of B...
Recital
SHARED INSTRUMENTAL BEAUTY IN VIEAUX-MEYERS WEILL HALL CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, March 30, 2019
Exciting timbral sound and intricate counterpoint, made possible when two artists with complementary instruments play together, were richly explored by violinist Anne Akiko Meyers and guitarist Jason Vieaux March 30 in Weill Hall. Whether in close harmony, or unison, or weaving separate melodies to...
Chamber
RARE MAHLER QUARTET AT MILL VALLEY CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 24, 2019
Piano quartets are relatively rare in the classical literature, and there are only about 40 compositions for the combination of piano, violin, viola and cello, mostly from the Romantic period of the mid to late 1800s. It therefore was special March 24 to hear three great works of this medium, perfor...
Symphony
AMERICAN CLASSICS SPARKLE UNDER KAHANE’S BATON
by Steve Osborn
Saturday, March 16, 2019
Jeffrey Kahane, the Santa Rosa Symphony’s former conductor, returned to the Weill Hall podium on Saturday night, and the results were expectedly wonderful. The concert of American classics was by turns playful (Gershwin’s “An American in Paris”), emotional (Barber’s violin concerto) and triumphant (...
Chamber
FLORESTAN TRIO'S MENDELSSOHN AT SPRING LAKE VILLAGE CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Friday, March 08, 2019
Spring Lake Village’s monthly concerts usually clock in under an hour, but the March 8 Florestan Trio’s performance was more extended as so much good music was on tap for the 125 residents attending at Santa Rosa’s premiere retirement residence facility. Four short pieces made up the first half, be...
Chamber
TILDEN TRIO'S BOHEMIAN ENERGY AT DOMINICAN CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 03, 2019
Hard on the heels of the Trio Navarro’s late February concert in Sonoma State’s Schroeder Hall, Northern California’s other premiere resident piano trio, the Tilden, played an equally convincing program March 3 in Dominican University’s Angelico Hall. Clearly each hall’s acoustics, stage pianos and...
Recital
24 SONGS IN A MENKE-THOMPSON RECITAL ODYSSEY
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, February 23, 2019
Sonoma County pop and country singing enjoys continued popularity but it rare to see a professional classical vocal concert announced. Diva Ruth Ann Swenson was once a local star, but she has long departed and not much virtuoso recital singing can be found in the North Bay. But the exception to th...
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.