Friday, October 29, 2004

Concert Review

Walking out onto the stage in their striking red and black attire, John Clodfelter(pianist) and Barbara Paré (soprano) start out their performance on a high note (no pun intended). Beginning the program, pieces from Giulio Cesare by George Frideric Handel(1685-1759) come alive. Paré, staying in her character through the long introduction, uses many hand gestures and facial expressions to portray the feeling of the songs. Non disperar, chi sa? is an aria about Cleopatra, who is vying with her brother for control of the throne, when she learns of Pompey’s assassination from Nirenus, her advisor. She decides to woo Caesar in order to gain his help. Ptolemy, aware of his sister’s ambition, derides her. Cleopatra sings this aria to her unattractive brother and leaves. The only thing I have a hard time figuring out in this song is the pitch when Paré hits the really high notes. I feel like her vibrato is overpowering the exact value of the pitch.

Piangerò la sorte mia, the second aria in this set, is when Cleopatra has been taken prisoner by Ptolemy’s soldiers and is told that Caesar is dead. She sings this expressive aria mourning her losses in contrasting passages of dignified resignation and unbridled fury. Paré, contrasting the two pieces very well, shows lots of expressiveness in her face and gestures. She doesn’t lose her composure at all. I do like, however, when she doesn’t use such a strong vibrato because it makes the sound purer. This piece has a lot of melismas, or runs, throughout, and the thing I notice is she braces the piano so she can get through them in one breath. It’s not really a bad thing to do, I guess it’s just a matter of personal opinion.

The second set of songs, Sieben Frühe Lieder, by Alan Berg, take on a new flavor. In my opinion, they are very bizarre pieces; very contemporary sounding. The notes seem to be all over the place with no real pattern. The set consists of seven songs, so it is rather lengthy both for Paré and for the audience. She does portray each song differently, however, with different facial expressions and hand gestures. Her diction is amazing. You can definitely tell she pays attention to detail in all aspects.

After a brief pause in the program, Paré and Clodfelter return to the stage for the second half of the recital. This half is my favorite because of the song selections. These songs aren’t nearly as serious, and I think she has more fun with these because they aren’t as taxing. I have two favorites, Baby, Baby, by Paul Bowles which sounds like a lullaby, and from How To Get Heat Without Fire, “The Pocketbook”, by Tom Cipullo. In this song she really shows off her humor, and Clodfelter even gets to take the limelight a few times in this song. Overall, I think she did a fabulous job with preparation and performance. Paré and Clodfelter certainly work well together and I saw it in their performances.