Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Alek Shrader's Schwabacher Recital

Schwabacher Debut Recital
Sun February 8, 2009 5:30 pm
Temple Emanu-El's Martin Meyer Sanctuary

John Parr, Piano

Benjamin Britten:
Ca' the yowes
The foggy, foggy dew
The last rose of summer

Robert Schumann:
Dichterliebe op. 48

Henri Duparc:
L'invitation au voyage
Chanson triste

Franz Liszt:
Drie Lieder aus Schiller's Wilhelm Tell:
Der Fischerknabe
Der Hirt
Der Alpenjäger

Vincenzo Bellini: Per pietà, bell'idol mio
Gaetano Donizetti: Occhio nero incendiator
Gioacchino Rossini: La danza

I was impressed by Mr. Shrader's scene in the Adler Fellows concert, so I glady came back for more. He offered a mostly serious program of songs in English, German, French & Italian. There were several strange minutes before his entrance when the house lights kept going up & down, as if someone was back there fiddling with the dimmer switch, unable to make up his mind how dark or bright the hall needed to be.

Because of the shape of the venue, there's a large expanse between the audience & the stage. It made me think how scary it must be for a singer, stepping out there in front of all these judgmental people, with no instrument to hide behind.

Mr. Shader, a young & handsome fellow, may have no such fears, however. Although at times his high notes sound a little tight, he hits everything & has an easy stage manner. I liked the wistful & charming character he created for The foggy, foggy dew.

He seems to have a naturally sunny personality, which made the tortured Dichterliebe seem like a bit of an emotional stretch. However, his delivery was not without its stormy moments. I enjoyed hearing the Lizst songs with their extravagant piano accompaniment. In both the Schumann & Lizst, Mr. Shrader displayed a surprisingly beautiful & strong lower register. Usually we're listening for a tenor's high notes, but I like his low notes in particular.

Mr. Shrader was most comfortable with the brighter Italian songs at the end of the recital, & he definitely loosened up a bit with these. For his 1st encore he walked out with a guitar, sat down on the steps of the stage, & accompanied himself as he sang Ecco Ridente in Cielo from The Barber of Seville. It was awfully endearing. It reminded me that on my way to finding a seat, I was walking behind an older woman & overheard her say, "I'm sitting in the center. There'll be eye candy here."

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