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Recital
DEMANDING VIOLIN SONATAS CONQUERED BY BEILMAN-WEISS DUO IN SCHROEDER
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, May 14, 2017
Violinist Benjamin Beilman’s ravishing Mozart performance at last summer’s Weill Hall ChamberFest finale lured an enthusiastic crowd to Schroeder Hall May 14 to hear if his secure virtuosity was up to a program of demanding sonatas. He did not disappoint. With the powerful pianist Orion Weiss in t...
Symphony
SOVIETS INVADE WEILL HALL, TAKE NO PRISONERS
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, May 07, 2017
Bruno Ferrandis may be French, but he excels in Soviet repertoire. His Slavonic expertise was more than amply demonstrated at the Santa Rosa Symphony’s May 7 concert, where the program began joyfully with Khachaturian’s ballet suite from “Masquerade,” surged forward with Prokofiev’s second violin co...
Recital
MASTERFUL PIANISM IN GOODE'S WEILL HALL RECITAL
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, May 05, 2017
Pianist Richard Goode programmed an evening of treasures May 5 from four great composers, and is an artist of intimacy and intelligence, power and passion, able to go deep and to soar. Hearing Mr. Goode play this literature was a reminder of how music does indeed bridge worlds and time. Bach’s E m...
Recital
ELEGANT ORGAN SALUTE TO THE REFORMATION
by Paul Blanchard
Sunday, April 30, 2017
Organist Jonathan Dimmock presented an April 30 recital in homage to the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, playing Schroeder Hall’s wonderful Brombaugh instrument. Mr. Dimmock is the organist for the San Francisco Symphony, principal organist for the Palace of the Legion of Honor and teaches at...
Chamber
NOTES AND BARS DO NOT A PRISON MAKE
by Nicki Bell
Saturday, April 29, 2017
The Hermitage Piano Trio brought exuberant musicality and sumptuous sound to a packed house April 29 in Occidental's Performing Arts Center for the last concert in the Redwood Arts Council’s 37th season. With a wide interpretive range--from lush to delicate to passionate--these three young Russian v...
Recital
SCHUMANN AND BARTOK HIGHLIGHT BRONFMAN RECITAL IN WEILL
by Lee Ormasa
Friday, April 21, 2017
Those people once addicted to the “Angry Birds” game application likely suffered an auditory flashback during the opening measures of the allegro from Bartok’s Suite, Op. 14, the opening work in Yefim Bronfman’s April 21 recital at Weill Hall. The repetitive opening figures of the Bartok were...
Symphony
HULKING MAHLER "TITAN" AT SO CO PHIL'S SEASON FINALE
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 08, 2017
A composer’s first symphony rarely gives a clear indication of what beautiful complexities will follow over the years. Early Mozart and Tchaikovsky are examples, and the big exceptions to this axiom are the “firsts” of Beethoven, Shostakovich and Mahler. Tackling Mahler ‘s D Major Symphony (No. 1,...
Symphony
SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY STAYS CLOSE TO HOME
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, March 26, 2017
Santa Rosa Symphony concerts usually feature high-powered soloists imported from afar, but for their recent “Bring on the Strings” concert set, they stuck close to home, thrusting their principal violin, viola and cello into the limelight. The violinist (Joseph Edelberg) and the violist (Elizabeth P...
Recital
SLAM BANG SONORITY IN HAOCHEN ZHANG'S SCHROEDER RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 19, 2017
Piano Competition winners are in ample supply, and it’s often a hit and miss proposition as to their sterling interpretative qualities. However, the quadrennial Van Cliburn Competition in Ft. Worth has continually produced top-level artists, and the 2009 winner Haochen Zhang proved a formidable per...
Symphony
FOREIGN AFFAIRS CHARACTERS OF THE BAROQUE
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Sunday, March 12, 2017
Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, known as Akamus, played a Weill Hall concert March 12 in a program called "Foreign Affairs -Characters of the Baroque.” The ensemble, that began in 1984, has 15 musicians led by concert master Bernhard Forck. Attired in elegant black with red accents, ranging from tie...
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.