My second concert of the day was a Halloween themed recital given by soprano Jennifer Taverner at Atelier Rosemarie Umetsu. Now previously I had only heard Jennifer sing operetta, at which she is very good, so I had little idea what her range is. Last night I found out. The first part of the program was pretty normal recital fare. Ombre pallide from Handel’s Alcina was knocked off with flair and some bravura in the repeat. Then came some French chansons of spookiness including Saint Saens’ Danse macabre where Jennifer and pianist Andrea van Pelt were joined by Jennifer Murphy on violin. All nicely done with fine diction.
I guess it was the set of three contrasting German lieder that I was keenest to hear, both because I like them and because here’s one real test of a singer. Schumann’s Waldesgespräch was handled gracefully and with very precise handling of the text. Strauss’ Allerseelen was even better. If a soprano can sing Strauss with feeling and make it sound easy she can sing! And that’s what happened. And the witch’s hat came out for Mendelssohn’s Hexenlied.
The second half was an all English language affair. It began with a very perceptive version of the Tower Scene from Britten’s Turn of the Screw; another deceptively tricky piece. Then there was lighter and quite fun stuff including a setting of Jabberwocky by John Duke. The set concluded with Pirate Jenny from Threepenny Opera. This had just the right balance of menace and insouciance. Hoopla! So we strayed far from operetta and revealed breadth and depth I hadn’t heard before. I’m up for more!
And there was an encore. Mezzo Lyndsay Promane emerged from the depths of the crowd to partner Jennifer in Rossini’s Cat Duet. Lady Jane couldn’t have done better. Miaooow and Happy Birthday to the Halloween birthday girl!
Photos by me.