Thursday, December 03, 2009

Ji Young Yang & Gerald Thompson

San Francisco Performances
Salons at the Rex
Ji Young Yang & Gerald Thompson

Wednesday, December 2, 6:30pm
Hotel Rex

Ji Young Yang, Soprano
Gerald Thompson, Countertenor
John Parr, Piano
Steve Lin, Guitar

PURCELL: Sound the trumpet; Lost is my quiet
HANDEL: "Da tempeste il legno" and "Caro, Bella" from Giulio Cesare
MOZART: "S'io non moro a questi accenti" from Idomeneo; "Ah perdona al primo affetto" from La Clemenza di Tito
HANDEL:"Rompo i lacci" from Flavio; "Bramo aver mille vite" from Ariodante

ARR. TARRAGO: Canciones Populares Espanõlas
Campanas de Belen (Córdoba)
Tengo que subir (Asturias)
Jaeneras que yo canto (Andalucia)

ARLEN: Stormy Weather
DELUGG & STEIN: Orange Colored Sky
HOWARD: Fly Me to the Moon

MONTEVERDI:"Pur ti miro" from L'incoronazione di Poppea

Encore: Alleluia from Mozart's Exultate, Jubilate

It's a great treat to hear operatic voices close up. I'm so glad that San Francisco Performances gives us these opportunities in their Salons at the Rex series. About 70 of us, a sold-out crowd, in closely-spaced chairs, jammed the salon at the Hotel Rex. It was clearly an opera audience. Many people brought in drinks from the bar. Both the singers are former Adler Fellows at the beginning of their careers. Soprano Ji Young Yang has a bright, youthful sound that she produces with seeming ease. Countertenor Gerald Thompson has a surprisingly big, concentrated sound & performs all those Baroque runs very cleanly. He improvised a startling run up to a big high note in the Handel aria Rompo i lacci.

I was never in doubt as to the meaning of the songs. Sound the Trumpet was indeed celebratory. Bramo aver mille vite felt like ardent passion. Ms. Yang & Mr. Thompson, with their well-matched sounds, made a good case for the Baroque convention of combing high voices in a love duet. They also did a modest amount of acting with their glances & gestures.

Ms. Yang sang the Spanish songs, which are special favorites of hers. She told us that when she came across the music in the New England Conservatory library, she wanted to steal it. She expressed the emotions of the songs so clearly that the printed translations were unnecessary. As an added bonus, she was accompanied by Steve Lin on the guitar.

Mr. Thompson, also accompanied by the guitar, sang the 3 jazz standards. These countertenor covers were so unexpected that I was on the verge of chuckling the whole time. Sadly, I'll probably never again hear a countertenor declare, "Wham! Bam! Alakazam!"

The musical program lasted no more than 65 minutes. Afterward the singers stayed on to answer questions from the audience. We learned about some of their early musical experiences & about life after the Adler program. Ms. Yang was frank about her worries getting engagements before she got a green card.


John Marcher said...

I need to get these salons on my calendar. Those two are excellent singers and I regret missing the opportunity to hear them in such an intimate environment.

Axel Feldheim said...

There is a spring Salon Series starting up in January, which I already have tickets for, so check it out! Hearing music in this small setting is a totally different order of experience than the concert hall.