Sunday, May 22, 2011

Kate Royal - Bolcom, Schumann, Wolf, Liszt, Debussy, Schubert, Tosti, Canteloube, Bridge, Copland, Beach, Ravel, Fauré, Strauss, Duparc, Brahms, Britten, Sibelius, Hahn & Hughes - 05/20/11

William Bolcom: "Waitin’"
Robert Schumann: "Jemand," Op. 25, No. 4
Hugo Wolf: "Die Kleine"
Franz Liszt: "Es muss ein Wunderbares sein"
Claude Debussy: "Apparition"
Hugo Wolf: "O wär dein Haus durchsichtig"
Hugo Wolf: "Erstes Liebeslied eines Mädchens"
Franz Schubert: "Gretchen am Spinnrade," D.118
Franz Schubert: "Rastlose Liebe," D. 138
Paolo Tosti: "Pour un baiser"
Joseph Canteloube: "Tchut, tchut"
Frank Bridge: "Love went a'riding"
Aaron Copland: "Pastorale"
Amy Beach: "Ah, love but a day"
Robert Schumann: "Lieder der Braut aus dem Liebesfrühling I," Op. 25, No. 11
Robert Schumann: "Lieder der Braut aus dem Liebesfrühling II," Op. 25, No. 12
Maurice Ravel: "Chanson de la mariée"
Gabriel Fauré: "Donc, ce sera par un clair jour d’été," Op. 61, No. 7
Richard Strauss: "Hochzeitlich Lied," Op. 37, No. 6
Henri Duparc: "Extase"
Johannes Brahms: "Am Sonntag Morgen zierlich angetan," Op. 49, No. 1
Franz Schubert: "Die Männer sind méchant," D. 866, No. 3
Franz Schubert: "Du liebst mich nicht," D. 756
Benjamin Britten: "O Waly, Waly"
Hugo Wolf: "Verschling’ der Abgrund"
Jean Sibelius: "Was it a dream?" Op. 37, No. 4
Reynaldo Hahn: "Infidélité"
Aaron Copland: "Heart, we will forget him"
Herbert Hughes: "I will walk with my love"
William Bolcom: "Waitin’"

I have never been big on song recitals because I have always preferred enjoying the marvelous possibilities of the human voice through full-fledge opera productions. What can I say? I am spoiled that way. But some opportunities should not be missed, and when my friend Nicole offered me a ticket to go hear popular English soprano Kate Royal, fresh from her first ever run at the Met in “Orfeo ed Euridice”, and much admired pianist Christopher Glynn in Carnegie Hall’s intimate Weill Recital Hall last Friday, I was more than happy to accept. And not to be outdone, I managed to grab the very last ticket for the performance as an early French Mother’s Day gift for my visiting mum too!

Entitled “A Lesson in Love”, the concert was a song cycle put together by Kate Royal and describing the first roller-coasting journey of a young girl through the endless twists and turns and ups and downs of love. Cleverly combining elaborate numbers by famous composers such as Claude Debussy’s “Apparition” and Franz Schubert’s “Gretchen am Spinnrade, D. 118” with fleeting trifles by lesser-known names like Paolo Tosti’s “Pour un baiser” and Henri Duparc’s “Extase”, she immediately struck the right pace and managed to easily maintain it for a steady progression through the four stages of Waiting, The Meeting, The Wedding and Betrayal, all the way back to Waiting again. Smarter, but still hopeful.
After getting a taste of her elegantly accented English while she was explaining the performance’s overall concept, we got to hear Kate Royal sing in English, German, French and… Auvergnat, an Occitan-derived dialect dating back to the Roman Empire. The small space and proximity of our seats to the stage allowed us to experience the artists’ solid skills close and personal, happily taking in all the details of the voice and piano making beautiful music together. As she had mentioned it at the beginning, some of the songs were old friends, some new acquaintances, but she kept on churning them out with the same remarkable aplomb. Efficiently supported by Christopher Glynn's assured playing, she enacted each and every of the young girl’s torments and ecstasies as if they were her own, with unwavering emotional commitment and a firm grasp on her vocal capacities.

The encore came in the form of the classic Irish ballad “Danny Boy”, a departure from the general theme of the concert, but since we had already come full circle, it was a perfectly fitting conclusion to a truly lovely evening.

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