Felsenmusick - The Weblog of Daniel Felsenfeld
The Web Log of a Certain Daniel Felsenfeld: Composer, critic, avid reader, aspiring
bon vivant, capricorn, shadowy figure, advice for the lovelorn

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Caroline Worra and Ryan MacPherson

I absolutely must rave about a recital I happened to catch at Weill Recital Hall the other snowy night, joint effort between soprano Worra and Tenor MacPherson, joined by pianist Janice Wenger and pianist/composer Edwin Penhorwood. Both singers are consummate artists, excellent actor/singers with an eye to music's future. The fare was lovely, from arias by Tobias Picker and Mark Adamo to art songs by Benjamin Britten, Richard Rodney Bennett and (surprisingly, fascinatingly so) by Charles Griffes, one of those too-overlooked composers. Both performers are not only very attractive, but are gifted with those fortunate faces that read as beautiful from the back row--and they both know how to work this to their advantage. Worra's soprano manages to be both broad and pointed, never shrill, always careful, and perfectly expressive; MacPherson's tenor is both light and yet somehow firm. And both are able to sing in their native tongue, alas all-too rare. (And I must say, from a composer's perspective, it is refreshing to hear an entire evening in English.) An especial highlight for me was Caroline's gently insane reading of Penhorwood's intentionally demented setting of e.e. cummings' "who knows if the moon is a balloon," a realistic and yet amusing mad scene. This was followed by a lush, fearlessly tonal setting of "A Lute Will Lie" (poet unknown to this writer) and a cheekily rollicking rendition of Dickinson's "Wild Nights!" (Very minor criticism: where were the texts, or the names of the poets?) Her wistful portrayal of Carlisle Floyd's "Ain't it a Pretty Night" from Susannah reminded all present that someone ought to cast her in this part and quick--she was born for it!

MacPherson sings Britten like a dream, but it was his captivating "The rose of the night," poem by Fiona McCloud and music by Griffes, that was his most winning contribution to the evening. It was, simply put, dreamy. And his Tom Rakewell was appropriately scabrous and forthright as the part demands--again, presenters take note.

Together they made excellent music out of the famous "Watch Duet" from Fladermaus (urgh, not exactly my favorite fare but they certainly did it to the hilt), including a hilarious moment where Worra's dress proved too modest to seductively recieve the watch into her cleavage!

It is rare to see an un-precious recital like this, and small attendance due to imminent (and ultimately record-breaking) noreasterner did not diminish their communucation. Really, quite a night.


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