"Our First Time"
May 5, 2012
By Meche Kroop, Voce di meche

It was our first time hearing Poulenc's La Dame de Monte Carlo, a 1961 setting of a work by Jean Cocteau. To hear it sung at all would have been a treat, but to hear this scena as performed by Adrienne Danrich was a revelation. Ms. Danrich dressed for the part of a down-on-her-luck potential suicide who is keeping herself going by gambling at Monte Carlo; she threw herself completely into the part with her grandly expansive soprano and conveyed every nuance in the piece. A triumph! She did equal justice to four Rachmaninoff songs, our favorite of which was Child, You are Fair as a Flower. Her a cappella encore Lord, I just can't keep from crying was incredibly moving.

Baritone Sidney Outlaw sang four songs by Brahms that gave a lie to the oft-repeated claim that Brahms' songs don't measure up to those by Schubert and Schumann. One can especially appreciate the way the vocal line and the piano reflect one another. There is nothing lightweight about Immer leiser wird mein Schlummer, another heartbreaker. Switching to French, Mr. Outlaw sang the tender Phidylé and followed it with the intensity of Le manoir de Rosemonde. The songs of Henri DuParc are all little gems! Mr. Outlaw's a cappella encore Fix Me Jesus allowed him to really let loose and pour his feelings into song; this brought down the house. A duet of He's Got the Whole World in His Hands was finely harmonized.

Mr. Bagwell's accompaniment is always exceptional. Not only is he a genius at putting together a program and finding the right singers but his playing is always totally supportive of the singer. The piano part of this afternoon's recital involved breezes, waves, warm fragrances and a galloping horse--all of which came through perfectly. But it is in contemporary music that one listens more intently to the piano part (because the vocal lines are rarely lyrical) and Mr. Bagwell's playing did ample justice to the contemporary works on the program. Drew Hemenger's setting of Langston Hughes' Genius Child seemed the most interesting of the set.

As the final concert of The Lotte Lehmann Foundation Recitals drew to a close, we found ourselves anticipating more to come for the next season. In the meanwhile, we hereby notify you to save next December 1st for a recital in commemoration of World Aids Day in the Great Hall of Cooper Union.