PERLMAN TRIUMPHS IN LOW TEMPERATURE SOLD OUT WEILL HALL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, September 15, 2019
Itzhak Perlman did a rare thing for a classical musician in his Sept. 15 recital – he sold out Weill Hall’s 1,400 seats, with 50 more on stage. Clearly the violinist has an adoring local audience that came to hear him perform with pianist Rohan De Silva in a concert of two substantial sonatas mixed...
TRANSCRIPTIONS ABOUND IN GALBRAITH'S GUITAR RECITAL
by Gary Digman
Saturday, September 14, 2019
Master guitarist Paul Galbraith’s artistry was much in evidence Sept. 14 in his Sebastopol Community Church recital. Attendees in the Redwood Arts Council events were initially bothered by the afternoon’s heat in the church, but it was of small importance when the Cambridge, England-based artist be...
ECLECTIC DRAMATIC PROGRAMING IN SPRING LAKE VILLAGE RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, September 11, 2019
Marin-based pianist Laura Magnani combined piquant remarks to an audience of 100 Sept. 11 with dramatic music making in a recital at Spring Lake Village’s Montgomery Center.
Ms. Magnani’s eclectic programming in past SLV recitals continued, beginning with three sonatas by her Italian compatriot Sca...
PERFORMER AS PROMOTER: CLARA SCHUMANN AND MUSICAL SALONS CLOSE VOM FESTIVAL
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Sunday, July 28, 2019
The July 28 closing performance of the Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Festival could have been subtitled "Friends", as it was devoted to works by both Clara and Robert Schumann, and those of their friends and protégés Brahms and virtuoso violinist Joseph Joachim, with whom Clara toured extensively...
ROMANTIC CHAMBER WORKS HIGHLIGHT VOM FESTIVAL AT HANNA CENTER
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, July 27, 2019
Now in its 5th season the Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Festival presented July 27 a concert titled “My Brilliant Sister,” featuring Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel’s compositions for combinations of voice, fortepiano and strings. Fanny and her brother Felix were close, and Felix occasionally published ...
ROMANTIC DREAMS AT THE MENDOCINO MUSIC FESTIVAL
by Kayleen Asbo
Wednesday, July 24, 2019
Romanticism, contrary to many popular perceptions, wasn’t simply about diving into the habitat of the heart. Romanticism began as a literary movement that elevated the power of nature as a transcendent force and sought with keen nostalgia to rediscover the wisdom of the past. The Romantics in both l...
CHAUSSON CONCERTO SHINES IN A VISIONARY'S SALON
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, July 21, 2019
Ernest Chausson’s four-movement Concerto in D Major for Violin, Piano, and String Quartet (1891) is neither concerto nor sonata nor symphony, but it somehow manages to be all three, especially when played with fire and conviction by an accomplished soloist.
Those incendiary and emotional elements w...
EUROPEAN SALON MUSIC CAPTIVATES AT VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Sunday, July 21, 2019
Two stunning programs of 19th and 20th century chamber music were presented on July 21 and 28 as part of the Valley of the Moon Music Festival at the Hanna Center in Sonoma. Festival founders and directors pianist Eric Zivian and cellist Tanya Tompkins were both on hand to contribute brilliantly at ...
ECLECTIC INSTRUMENTAL COMBINATIONS IN VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, July 20, 2019
A Lovely summer afternoon in Sonoma Valley, an excellent small concert hall, enthusiastic audience, exciting musicians and creative programming with interesting story lines. All these were combined July 20 at a Valley of the Moon Festival concert titled “An Italian in Paris.” This is the fifth seaso...
'ELIXIR' A WELCOME TONIC IN SPRIGHTLY ANNUAL MMF OPERA
by Terry McNeill
Friday, July 19, 2019
In most of the Mendocino Music Festival’s 33 seasons a single evening is given over to a staged opera, with bare bones sets, lighting, costumes, minimal cast and short length. No Wagner or Verdi here, no multiple acts and complicated production demands. Light and frothy are the usual, and so it wa...
K. Scharich and J. LaDeur May 8 at Spring Lake Village
THREE SONG CYCLES HIGHLIGHT VIBRANT SLV RECITAL
by Pamela Hicks-Gailey
Wednesday, May 08, 2019
An ambitious recital of vocal and piano music was presented May 8 at Santa Rosa’s Spring Lake Village by mezzo-soprano Kindra Scharich and pianist Jeffrey LaDeur. The duo engaged the enthusiastic audience with scholarly friendliness and artistry in performances of Beethoven's short cycle of six songs An die ferne Geliebte, Op. 98; selections from Fauré's La Bonne Chanson, Op. 61; and four of Copland’s Twelve Poems of Emily Dickinson composed in 1950.
Mr. LaDeur also contributed two solo pieces: the first movement of Schumann's C Major Fantasy, Op. 17, and Liszt's "Sposalizio" from Deuxième Année de Pèlerinage: Italie. This was a full ninety-minute program with perhaps more introductory narrative of each piece than was necessary.
The Beethoven songs present a variety of interpretative challenges for a singer, and as with most of the song cycles by composers of the early to mid nineteenth century, this piece has been the province of tenors and baritones. Although women have always freely performed stand-alone German songs with gender neutral texts, they have mostly avoided the great cycles of Schubert and Schumann, which are uniformly sad tales of sad men. Women are only recently beginning to challenge the gender norm and explore this rich artistic territory. And yet, in spite of a desire to hear women tackling these great cycles, I've always felt that the mid-range male voice to be the most ideally suited to singing the consonant-rich and colorful text inflections of the German art song canon, the reason being that the singing range of the male voice sits primarily in its natural speaking range, which lends a speaking quality and immediacy to the poems that are being sung.
Women sing the same music but an octave (or two) higher than their natural speaking voices, and as a result, the speaking quality is weaker, and inflection and diction are in danger of becoming either lost or rather generalized. Depending on the acoustics of the hall, words can be more or less obscured in a live performance, particularly in the higher range, even though a skilled singer may have perfect diction. It's the eternal problem, especially in presenting an entire cycle. A cycle is essentially a very long epic monologue or ballade, and if inflection or diction are weak, then the songs take on a sameness of tone and can become tedious.
In this performance the hall was intimate enough to accommodate both a light voice and pianissimo singing, and Ms. Scharich's very light voice and delivery (while wanting a bit more heft) were otherwise well-suited to the piece from 1816. Although for me the ideal sound would contain more complexity, punch and "Germanic" depth, hers is a sympathetic, fresh, and buoyantly soaring mezzo-soprano of lovely clarity, pinpoint intonation and musical discipline, and I understood virtually every word. An expressive, relaxed, technically solid and committed singer with a pleasant stage demeanor, she moved calmly through the subtle mood changes of each poem, telling her personal reverie of melancholy contemplation, longing, impatience, joy, and finally exultation.
Mr. LaDeur and Ms. Scharich sing and play together very intimately and effectively. The pianist’s affinity for this music, his fiery style and technic framed these songs in a way that musically described the poetic content and Ms. Scharich's vocalism. The result was a coherent and satisfying rendition. If I could have wished for anything more from this performance, it would have been for both artists to have been musically even freer with the natural inner rubato contained in the poetry and music, giving a little more space here, a little more pause there. There is a fine line between allowing music and word to occasionally linger and hang in the air, and overindulging the moment, and I felt some moments could have hung a little longer.
Schumann’s great quasi sonata was played with extreme sonic contrasts and in a muscular style that well fitted this echt example of German romanticism. Presumably Mr. LaDeur selected it to highlight the thematic connection with the Beethoven song cycle. Dramatic license was taken with phrasing, and several inner voices were intriguing. With many in the hall I wanted to hear the subsequent mässig, durchaus energisch movement in the compatible E Flat, but time permitted only this potent reading of one movement of the masterful music. Dramatic playing continued in Liszt’s Sposalizio (“Wedding”) and Mr. LaDeur’s resounding left-hand octaves propelled much of the eight-minute work, as did the tonal warmth of the lovely slow section.
Ms. Scharich returned to sing four songs from Fauré’s La Bonne Chanson and closed the program with Copland's Dickinson settings, and she created a pleasingly idiomatic alteration to her vocal color as she sang in French and English. That said, the Fauré songs are a work in progress and she was not yet free enough from the score, which tended to reduce the performance quality. These songs work even more dreamily in the oft-performed string quartet version, but even if the visual experience was more like a rehearsal, this performance was a pleasure to listen to. The colleagues understand each other, and French suits Ms. Scharich's voice and temperament ideally.
Although this listener is not the greatest fan of every one of Copland's Dickinson Songs, the four that Ms. Scharich closed the program were among my favorites ("Nature, the Gentlest Mother", "Why Do They Shut Me Out of Heaven", "Heart, We Will Forget Him", and "Going to Heaven!"). Using the score as an occasional prompt did not interfere with her interpretations, and she rose to the technical challenges, completely immersed in these wonderful, stirring poems. Dissonances were perfectly tuned, and vocal acrobatics were effortless. It was a very strong ending to the program.
The acoustics of this venue are somewhat problematic in that the hall’s piano sound, although never totally obscuring Ms. Scharich singing, is bright and loud for the space. The lack of lighting and closeness of the audience to the performers tended to make Ms. Scharich sing over us rather than to us. The general ambiance of this recital would also have been enhanced with some mood-setting lighting, by creating more space between the performers and audience, and by the artists themselves choosing more elegant and/or interesting attire, rather than the “Casual Friday" look. I found myself wanting more visual presence and magic!
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