Bear in mind in November « parterre field

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After two hours of very severe music-making, Anne Sofie von Otter ended her recital at Zankel Corridor with a trifle. Talking from the stage along with her subtly accented English, the 67-year-old mezzo launched her remaining encore by the reasonably cumbersome title it holds in her native Sweden: “Bear in mind in November the Splendor of September.” The music, after all, is “Attempt to Bear in mind” from The Fantasticks, which Von Otter proceeded to carry out in a charmingly bilingual model.

It was a second of welcome levity after a night of principally morass. And with Von Otter using her still-supple decrease vary in an American musical theater model, it offered the primary proof of pure singing in a program that was in any other case vocally worrisome.

Had Von Otter began with this quantity reasonably than ended with it, the viewers would have had one thing good to recollect over the course of a recital spent within the winter of a fantastic singer’s profession. However the primary focus was Schubert reasonably than Harvey Schmidt. Von Otter and her accompanist, the fortepianist Kristian Bezuidenhout, crafted a live performance that testified to the composer’s items in each the lieder and keyboard repertory. Sadly, the supply discovered each artists sounding equally wan.

Hassle was afoot from the primary choice onward. “Der Einsame” discovered Von Otter in a self-consciously campy mode, gesturing broadly and underlining phrases with quite a lot of affectation however little sense of feeling. Disconcerting breaks have been notable between her vocal registers, along with her higher vary sounding notably hole and unsupported. Pitch was generally unsteady, and Von Otter has not gained the richness in her center voice that many mezzos purchase within the later years of their careers.

There have been moments that recommended her true artistry, if not the previous fantastic thing about her well-knit instrument. She introduced a characterful high quality to “Der Geistertanz” that suited the spooky lyrics, and the staccato passages of the music suited her present capabilities. “An den Mond” grew to become a haunting paean to the creep of previous age.

But Von Otter’s interpretations appeared facile elsewhere. She supplied no distinct delineation between the competing voices in “Der Tod und das Mädchen,” and the favored and well-known music got here to naught. “Die Taubenpost” was pleasantly sung however held not one of the psychological dimensions of the composer’s impending loss of life.

The beautiful “Nachtstück”—a religious counterpart to the composer’s better-known “Der Leiermann”—sounded maudlin reasonably than profound, though Bezuidenhout utilized the stylistic idiosyncrasies of the fortepiano to craft a compellingly eerie accompaniment.

Von Otter paired these picks with a set of songs by Adolf Fredrik Lindblad, recognized to his countryman as “the Swedish Schubert.” Though he lived for much longer than his Austrian counterpart, I heard little that recommended the singular artistry that has sustained Schubert’s popularity because the foremost lieder composer of all time. Solely the sweetly contemplative “Vaggvisa,” a easy youngster’s lullaby, stood out as memorable.

At a number of factors, Von Otter ceded the highlight to Bezuidenhout, a formidable artist in his personal proper. He introduced rhythmic safety and technical talent to the Allegretto quasi Andantino from Schubert’s D537 sonata, however I’d have preferred extra wit to underpin his brawny strategy. The Andante from the D664 sonata sounded lush however trivial.

A complete write-off was Mozart’s Rondo in A Minor, K511, which got here throughout like Bezuidenhout was simply warming up. As a companion to Von Otter all through the night, Bezuidenhout was supportive however hardly ever memorable.

The recital marked Von Otter’s first New York look in practically 4 years, and the temper within the viewers was heat and beneficiant. (Well-known collaborators Elvis Costello and Rufus Wainwright have been noticed among the many crowd.)

The singer is probably not deep into the December of her profession—she nonetheless has distinguished opera engagements across the globe—however for individuals who bear in mind the singular purity of her sound, her present vocal property in classical music shall be laborious to take. However maybe there’s a theater in Uppsala who might use a feminine El Gallo for his or her manufacturing of The Fantasticks?

Photograph: © Mats Ba?cker



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