Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Looking Back at "L’Heure Exquise"

So I bumped into my good friend ST at Brendan-Keefe Au's and Lim  Yanting's concert last night, and jokingly asked if he would like to contribute a few opinions. Lo and behold a full review arrived at my inbox the very next day!

Anyway, I personally had a very good time. Both singers are young and their voices reflect as such, and wisely stuck to repertoire that do not push their resources to the limit. But working with what they had they milked each number for every bit of expressivity, fully engaged with the text and displaying a mature sense of musicality. Brendan's light tenor had a lovely head voice used to beautiful effect, while Yanting's light soprano has a flirtatious charm that lighted up the stage. I'd love to keep up and see how these two would mature.

Anyway, here's ST's more detailed take on the recital L'Heure Exquise:

This was a delightful song recital featuring two promising young talents, soprano Lim Yanting and tenor Brendan-Keefe Au. They were accompanied by the experienced Mr Shane Thio at the piano. The hour of music making was irradiated throughout by youthful exuberance and enthusiasm and the audience clearly enjoyed it.

The hall was almost full (certainly helped by the fact that admission was free) and the concert featured fourteen songs. They included works by Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Bellini, Arditi, Tosti, Wolf, Barber, Hahn, Quilter and Schumann. The singers got to sing in English, German, French and Italian.

LimYanting had the voice of a light lyric soprano. It was clear, bell liked and even throughout the range. In an opera house, she could have been a Susanna, Zerlina or Gretel. Perhaps it was not ideal to start off the concert with Schubert’s Die Forelle. This piece was so famous and so widely recorded that surely everyone has his or her favourite version, and Miss Lim sounded just a shade tentative in this delightful piece. She was more settled and gave a charming rendition of Mozart’s Der Zauberer. Aridti’s Il Bacio, a small coloratura showpiece, found her starting off confidently with quite idiomatic Italian (certainly more so than her German). There was a slight blemish towards the end when the cadenza was not ideally articulated. In the second half of the programme, she gave a delightful performance of The Monk and His Cat. This was followed by competent performances of A Chloris and L’Heure Exquise by Reynaldo Hahn.

Brendan-Keefe Au had the voice of a light lyric tenor. It was a beautiful and flexible voice but at the moment lacked the ring of the true Italian tenor. In the opera house, he could grow into a Count Almaviva or Elvino. He also started somewhat tentatively with Schubert’s famous Der Neugierige from Die Schonne Mullerin. He improved considerably with a lively account of Beethoven’s Der Kuss. He then moved into the Italian territory with a graceful Malinconia, ninfa Gentile by Bellini. This was followed by a really beautiful performance of La Serenata by Tosti. It was gracefully phrased, confidently delivered in beautiful, unforced tone. I think this was the most enjoyable piece of music making in the entire evening. In the second half of the programme, he sang a charming Der Gartner by Wolf and the beautiful Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal by Quilter.

For the finale, the two singers teamed up and gave a really entertaining account of Unterm Fenster by Robert Schumann. It was greatly enhanced by the comic performance of Mr Au. Unfortunately the artists only offered one encore piece. I thought they would have offered one solo each before that duet Sound the Trumpet by Henry Purcell. It was confidently delivered in sparkling fashion and ended the evening of music making triumphantly. Throughout the evening, the experienced Mr Shane Thio provided excellent support at the piano much appreciated by the audience and the young artists. One really has to be grateful to the programme sponsors for their generosity offering such opportunities for the young artists in Singapore to showcase their talents and gain experience in public performances.

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