Saturday, April 05, 2014

2014 Schwabacher Debut Recital with Steven Blier

Schwabacher Debut RecitalLast weekend I attended a Schwabacher Debut Recital program featuring 4 Adler Fellows. There was lovely singing throughout. Each performer presented a set of songs by a different composer. Short ensemble numbers for all 4 separated each set. Steven Blier was the accompanist & host, providing amusingly pithy commentary. He referred to the 1st set of Villa-Lobos songs as "art song in a string bikini." Soprano Maria Valdez sang them with a liquid, space-filling voice & displayed impressive dynamic control. Mezzo Zanda Švēde has a stunningly rich & substantial contralto-like sound, & she gave her set of Grieg songs in German an appropriately deep & dark texture.

Tenor A.J. Glueckert sang a set of Frank Bridge songs that ranged from the cheerful & floaty to the psychologically spacey, & his voice was consistently clear, ringing & fluid. Baritone Hadleigh Adams did a terrific job selling the hipster melancholy, nostalgia & regret of songs by New York composer Gabriel Kahane, whom Mr. Blier described as "the love child of Schumann, Faure & Stevie Wonder." Mr. Hadleigh sang with a neat, even & natural sound that was easy to listen to. He also acted the song's emotions with discreet & unaffected gestures.

The interstitial ensemble numbers were lighter in mood & acted as palate-cleansers, though the Smokey Robinson selection felt out of place. The singers seemed careful about balancing their voices. In their encore from Candide, they all sang out more, revealing just how much they had been holding back during the recital.

Mr. Blier has a muscular condition that restricts the use of his upper arms, & occasional allowances must be made, but his musical intentions are always definitively clear. After the audience applauded during the 1st set of songs, he asked for "vociferous applause" only at the black lines in the printed program. The concert was absorbing, & the audience gave extended applause for each singer's set, though there seemed to be a policy that performers not take a 2nd solo bow.

§ 2014 Schwabacher Debut Recitals
Presented by San Francisco Opera Center and Merola Opera Program

New York Festival of Song
In the Memory Palace

Steven Blier, piano
Maria Valdes, soprano
Zanda Švēde, mezzo-soprano
A.J. Glueckert, tenor
Hadleigh Adams, baritone

HEITOR VILLA-LOBOS (1887 - 1959)
Cançao da folha morta
The Ensemble

From Floresta do Amazonas
    Canção de amor
    Cair da tarde
    Melodia sentimental
Maria Valdes

I seraillets have
The Ensemble

EDVARD GRIEG (1843 - 1907)
From 6 Songs, Opus 48
    Lauf der Welt
    Die verschwiegene Nachtigall
    Zur Rosenzeit
    Ein Traum
Zanda Švēde

Come live with me
The Ensemble

FRANK BRIDGE (1879 - 1941)
Go Not, Happy Day
When You Are Old and Grey
Dweller in my Deathless Dreams

A. J. Glueckert

Two Fairy Tales
The Ensemble

The Memory Palace
    7 Middagh
    Merritt Parkway
    North Adams
Hadleigh Adams

You've Really Got a Hold On Me
The Ensemble

Encore: Quartet from Leonard Berstein's Candide

Sunday, March 30, 5:30 p.m.
Temple Emanu-El’s Martin Meyer Sanctuary

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